May 1, 2005
In 2002, researchers diving in the submersible Alvin returned to the Galápagos Rift, a mid-ocean ridge about 250 miles from the Galápagos Islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean where hydrothermal vents and exotic organisms were first found in 1977. They discovered that seafloor lava had paved over a hydrothermal vent site called Rose Garden, named for its abundant communities of red-tipped tubeworms, mussels and clams the size of dinner plates, and other animals. But a few hundred feet away, tiny animals had begun to colonize a new vent field the researchers named Rosebud. On May 20, scientists will return to the site to see how the hydrothermal community has evolved at Rosebud during Dive and Discover Expedition 9. Researchers will again use Alvin to see what chemical, microbial and geological changes have occurred, make detailed maps of the animal distributions, and take high-resolution photographs to create photomosaics of the seafloor. They will also sample the animals and lava flows, deploy time-lapse cameras, larval traps, and chemical sensors directly at the vents, and search for new animal communities and black-smoker vents along the Galápagos Rift. Students and the public can join the expedition May 20-June 3 at Dive and Discover.