A First Responder on the Ocean Floor

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The Towed Digital Camera and Multi-Rock Coring System, or TowCam, was developed by scientists and engineers at WHOI to meet the U.S. oceanographic community's need for an imaging and sampling system with both routine and rapid-response capabilities. TowCam was recenly deployed in the Eastern Pacific Ocean to confirm that new lava flows had erupted on the seafloor on the East Pacific Rise off the coast of Mexico and Central America.  The surveys were designed to determine how the new flows disrupted the existing hydrothermal vent communities, and to begin to map the their extent. The event response cruises were both funded by the National Science Foundation's Ridge 2000 Program.

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TowCam, deployed from the R/V New Horizon operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, during a recent rapid response cruise to investigate a volcanic eruption on the East Pacific Rise crest near 9? 50'N. (Photo by Dan Fornari, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)