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Press Room

New Hybrid Vehicle Will Enable U.S. Scientists to Reach Deepest Parts of the World Ocean Floor

December 9, 2003

For the first time since 1960, US scientists will be able to explore the deepest parts of the world’s oceans, up to seven miles below the surface, with a novel underwater vehicle capable of performing multiple tasks in extreme conditions. Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) are developing a battery-powered underwater robot to enable scientists to explore the ocean’s most remote regions up to 11,000 meters (36,000-feet) deep.

New Piston Corer Will Give U.S. Scientists their Deepest Reach into Sea Floor

December 8, 2003

The longest piston coring system in United States will be built at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, allowing scientists to sample ancient sediment on the sea floor that is potentially rich with information about ocean and climate history.

Scientists Report New Type of Mid-Ocean Ridge in Remote Parts of the Earth

November 26, 2003

Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have identified a new type of ocean ridge that is spreading so slowly that Earth’s mantle is exposed over large regions of the sea floor. Their findings of a new ultraslow class of ridge, reported in the November 27 issue of the journal Nature, offer a major change in thinking about the formation of the great crustal plates that make up the surface of the earth.

Formation of Lava Bubbles Offers New Insight into Seafloor Formation

November 17, 2003

Scientists studying the formation of the sea floor thousands of feet below the surface have a new theory for why there are so many holes and collapsed pits on the ocean bottom. In a recent article in the journal Nature, the researchers say the holes and pits of various sizes are probably formed by lava erupting onto the seafloor so quickly it traps water beneath it, forming bubbles of steam that eventually collapse as the water cools. The hardened crust then breaks, forming pock marks and glassy black plates of ocean crust with stalactites on their underside.

New Science Channel Program Features WHOI Underwater Vehicles

October 29, 2003

A number of remotely operated and autonomous underwater vehicles developed and operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to explore the world’s oceans are featured in the new television program “Robots of the Deep,” scheduled for national premier on the Science Channel Friday, November 7, at 9 p.m. EST.

Two Journalists Honored with New WHOI Ocean Science Journalism Award

October 8, 2003

Two veteran journalists today received the first Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Ocean Science Journalism Award for their contributions to the public understanding of oceanography. The award, which comes with a $5,000 cash prize and memento, was presented in two categories, print and broadcast journalism, at ceremonies at the Asia Society and Museum in New York City.

Geological Tool Helps Scientists Map the Interior of the Ocean

August 7, 2003

A new application of a decades-old technique to study Earth’s interior is allowing scientists “see” the layers in the ocean, providing new insight on the structure of ocean currents, eddies and mixing processes. The findings, reported in this week’s Science by a team from the University of Wyoming and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), could be a major step forward in the ability to remotely survey the interior of the ocean.

New Imaging Vehicle Maps Coral Reefs to Determine Health of Reef and Fisheries

July 24, 2003

Deepwater coral reefs in the US Virgin Islands may occupy a much larger area and be in better health than previously thought, based on evidence gathered by a new autonomous underwater vehicle which flies through the sea like a helicopter.

New Location of Deep Convection May Exist in North Atlantic

July 16, 2003

Deep convection, or mixing, of ocean waters in the North Atlantic, widely thought to occur in only the Labrador Sea and the Mediterranean, may occur in a third location first proposed nearly 100 years ago by the explorer and oceanographer Fridtjof Nansen. The findings, reported this week in the journal Nature, may alter thinking about the ocean’s overturning circulation that affects earth’s climate.

Cruise to Top of the World Reveals New Insights into Formation of Earth’s Crust

June 26, 2003

Volcanoes on the floor of the Arctic ocean and fissures that reach directly to Earth’s mantle are findings published in today’s issue of Nature that present new ideas on the formation of Earth’s crust.

WHOI Chemist and Dean to Receive 2003 Ketchum Award

June 25, 2003

Dr. John Farrington, a chemical oceanographer who conducted pioneering research on petroleum in the marine environment and the mobility of contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in seafloor sediments, will receive the 2003 Bostwick H. Ketchum Award from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

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

Amy Bower

WHOI Scientist Honored As Blind Employee of the Year in Massachusetts

May 15, 2003

Dr. Amy Bower of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will be honored today with the Thomas J. Carroll Award for Employment as Blind Employee of the Year in Massachusetts by The Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, MA.

WHOI Scientists Respond to Buzzards Bay Oil Spill

May 6, 2003

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists from diverse disciplines have responded to the April 27 spill of nearly 15,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil into Buzzards Bay, drawing on decades of experience studying the effects of oil spills on the marine and coastal environment.

Sus Honjo

WHOI Scientist Honored by Japanese Government

May 1, 2003

One of Japan’s highest honors, the Imperial Order of the Rising Sun, will be bestowed on Dr. Susumu Honjo of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) for his research on the transfer of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the ocean’s interior and for his efforts to strengthen Japan’s role in the international ocean science research community. Honjo, the first oceanographer to be presented with this honor, will accept the award May 12 from Emperor Akihito in ceremonies at the Imperial Palace in Japan.

Construction Begins on WHOI’s New Coastal Vessel

April 30, 2003

With the press of a computer button and the plasma cutting of a sheet of aluminum, construction began earlier this month on the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s (WHOI) new 60-foot coastal vessel at Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Duclos Corporation in Somerset, MA. The $1.6 million vessel is scheduled for delivery in March 2004.

Will Ocean Fertilization To Remove Carbon Dioxide from the Atmosphere Work?

April 9, 2003

Reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to global warming, by fertilizing the oceans with iron may not be as attractive a solution as once thought according to a report in Science magazine.

Kurt Polzin

WHOI Scientist To Receive Nansen Medal from European Geophysical Society

March 27, 2003

Kurt Polzin, an associate scientist in the Department of Physical Oceanography at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will receive the European Geophysical Society’s Fridtjof Nansen Medal in recognition of his pioneering contributions to the measurement of mixing in the deep ocean. The award will be presented at the group’s annual meeting in Nice, France, in early April.

Century-Long Drought Linked to Collapse of Mayan Civilization

March 21, 2003

New analysis of sediment samples from the southern Caribbean indicate that severe droughts occurred at the same time as the known collapse of the Mayan civilization. In a study in the March 14 issue of the journal Science, lead author Gerald Haug of Geoforschungszentrum (GFZ) in Potsdam, Germany, together with Konrad Hughen of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and colleagues report that sediments from the Cariaco Basin in northern Venezuela clearly show a dry spell that the Caribbean region starting in the seventh century and lasting for more than 200 years.

John Hayes

WHOI Geochemist to be Honored By the American Chemical Society

March 5, 2003

Senior Scientist John Hayes of the Geology and Geophysics Department at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will receive the American Chemical Society’s 2003 Geochemistry Division Medal at the group’s 225th national meeting in March in New Orleans.