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How Does an Observatory Work?

When magma rises through Earth's crust to a mid-ocean ridge, ocean observatory sensors detect the ground motion, the spilling lava, and the chemicals spewing from hydrothermal vents. Observations are relayed via satellite back to shore-based researchers, who can command their instruments and a robotic vehicle to make specialized measurements, and then muster an expedition to inspect the eruption firsthand with submersibles or other undersea vehicles. (Animation by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is the world's leading non-profit oceanographic research organization. Our mission is to explore and understand the ocean and to educate scientists, students, decision-makers, and the public.
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