CEED Wilson Lecture: Exploring the Deep Oceans by Professor Daniel J. Fornari, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Daniel J. Fornari. Photo: Private
High-Resolution Mapping and Sampling Technologies to Study Deep-Sea Volcanic and Hydrothermal Processes in the 21st Century
The deep oceans and global seafloor are truly Earth’s last frontier. They remain largely unexplored, yet are critical to our survival on this planet. Covering nearly 70% of our planet and reaching depths of greater than 11,000 m, the ocean realm contains the largest chain of active volcanoes, boiling hot springs, and fault zones. In undersea mountains a mile beneath the surface, bizarre landscapes host exotic life forms that rival the most imaginative science fiction. In this dark and largely unexplored environment the potential exists for profound scientific discoveries in this century that will likely shape the future of human society. Despite the opaque blue mask of the oceans as depicted on many maps, the Earth’s solid crust extends continuously beneath the oceans with distinctive geological processes, spectacular landforms, and strange life, much of it still unknown. Whereas the continents above the sea are easily observable, light does not penetrate the ocean depths below ~400 m, hence imaging and exploring the vast seafloor environment presents special challenges. Over the past few decades, using specially developed technologies including autonomous robots, remotely operated vehicles and newly designed, human-occupied submarines, the global seafloor is now coming into focus and our ability to map and visualize it can be done at centimeter-scale resolution.
The lecture will focus on the linkages between submarine volcanism on the mid-ocean ridge crest and seamounts and hydrothermal phenomena, and how new vehicle and sensor technologies have enabled more detailed and site-specific exploration of seafloor processes in many tectonic environments.
Professor Emeritus Dan Fornari has participated in over 100 research cruises and as many dives in deep-sea submersibles in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. He has over 100 publications that focus on his research on volcanic and hydrothermal processes along the global mid-ocean Ridge.
Dan is a co-author of the book Discovering the Deep. A Photographic Atlas of the Seafloor and Oceanic Crust.
Dan´s Research interests are morphology and structure of mid-ocean ridges and transform faults; mid-ocean ridge hydrothermal processes; collection and interpretation of marine geophysical data including multibeam bathymetry and high resolution side scan sonar; geochemistry and petrology of ocean floor rocks, magmatic processes and petrochemical evolution of spreading centers, ridge-transform intersections, and intra-transform spreading centers; seamounts, their morphology, volcanic history, structure, and volcanic products; Alvin submersible, ROV, and AUV based deep sea research and technology Development.