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Scientists Explore New England Seamounts for Clues to Climate Change

June 5, 2003

Scientists are exploring the New England Seamounts, a chain of extinct, undersea volcanoes about 500 miles off the east coast of North America, searching for clues to climate change in deep sea corals. The public can join the expedition via the web at

A team of chemists, geologists, biologists, and engineers from universities and institutions including California Institute of Technology, Brown University, the U.S. Geological Survey, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) set out from Bermuda aboard WHOI’s Research Vessel Atlantis May 26. They are exploring the Seamounts with the three-person deep-diving submersible Alvin and the autonomous underwater vehicle ABE (for Autonomous Benthic Explorer) and are collecting samples of deep sea corals. The coral skeletons may reveal how Earth’s climate rapidly cooled or warmed in the past and could provide clues as to how it might change in the future.

The expedition can be followed daily on Dive and Discover, an interactive distance-learning web site which has conducted six previous live expeditions. Students, teachers and the public can read daily updates about the ongoing science, view video clips taken from the submersible Alvin, and email scientists questions about their research through June 17. A special exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston is also following the expedition.