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Images: Rescue Mission on the Seafloor

An eruption that covered 9 square miles of seafloor with lava at the East Pacific Rise trapped three ocean-bottom seismometers. Scientsts attempted to recover them with the remotely operated vehicle Jason in April 2007. They successfully recovered two and will learn in the weeks ahead if the data they contain are still viable. (Photo courtesy of the National Deep Submergence Facility, ROV Jason, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the National Science Foundation.)

Recovering the instruments called for the dexterity of the WHOI-operated robotic vehicle Jason, whose mechanical arms and hands were used to knock loose hardened lava and extricate the instruments. The arms are powered and controlled through a 6-mile-long tether that delivers video of the live action on the seafloor up to pilots and scientists on the ship. (Illustration by E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

WHOI marine geologist Dan Fornari holds chunk of recently erupted seafloor lava that came up with an ocean-bottom seismometer that was caught in an undersea eruption and stuck to the seafloor. Singed but intact, the instrument was recovered and may still contain rare data on seafloor eruptions. (Courtesy of Dan Fornari, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)