Jeff, Isabelle and Ancient Volcanoes

July 28, 2010

Lat/Lon: 39*33.47'N / 068*16.42'W
Air Temp: 25.8*C /78.44*F
Wind Speed: 12.66 kts
Humidity: 60.2%
Water Temp: 26.29*C /79.30*F
Salinity: 34.53 psu
Depth: 2888 m / 2.9 km / 1.7 miles

(I told Jeff and Isabelle to gaze out
pensively at the sea and
they did their best!)

Hi! Welcome to the New England Seamounts!
WHOI's fabulous Dina Pandya, tech Guru, has added a tool to our blog - "Expedition Updates By Location". It's at the top along the same line as "Home". Check it out!

Here's a youtube video taken by Alvin with footage of the organisms living on these seamounts.

The New England Seamounts were formed from plumes of magma upwelling from the mantle and through the crust called "hot spots". The Hawaiian islands have been formed
through the same process. The New England Seamounts are
the longest seamount chain in the North Atlantic and, though theyare no longer volcanically active, they are still a prominent feature on the Sohm Abyssal Plain extending 1,100 km from Georges Banks to Bermuda Rise.

The hot spot responsible for these dramatic ocean floor features didn't only affect the seafloor. Just as the Atlantic was opening, part of the breakup of Pangea, this hot spot was first under the northwest area of Hudson Bay, and tracked under our North American continent, feeding the magmatic intrusions of our White Mountains. Still the hot spot was active and as the continents spread further apart, the hot spot tracked under the seafloor, forming these New England Seamounts. Amazingly, the mid-Atlantic Ridge also tracked over the hot spot and still it persevered. Evidence of this same hot spot is on the African Plate - the "Great Meteor Tablemount" - a guyot!

See on-board Chemistry teacher Bob White's blog for an explanation for WHY our Chief Scientist is so interested in these seamounts!

The photo at the top of this blog shows Jeff Hood, tannest man on the ship, and Isabelle Gil, who wins the award for being able to speak the most languages. Here's a bit about each of them.

Jeff Hood

Jeff Hood, Cape Cod born, is currently a Lead Mechanic at WHOI where he repairs and fabricates oceanographic equipment when he’s on land. At sea, Jeff is a coring technician who specializes in the amazing CDH Long Core. Jeff, following in his father’s footsteps, joined the Air Force after high school where his mechanics savvy was quickly identified and developed. He was stationed at Castle Air Force Base in California and in addition to learning mechanical skills that would lead him to his current career, he had the chance to travel extensively throughout much of the world. It was a terrific opportunity!

Jeff returned to the Cape after his time in the Air Force and while putting his mechanical skills to use began to add welding to his repertoire. After some time working at various shops on the Cape and a tour during Desert Storm, Jeff was offered a position working at WHOI. Now, happily settled on the Cape with his wife Annette and his 8-year old son George, Jeff loves his work because he gets to work on cutting edge technology with some of the best engineers in the world. When I asked him what he likes the most about being at sea I wasn’t surprised when he said that he loves the challenge of having to “make do” with what you have on the ship. “You can’t run out to the ‘parts’ store when you’re at sea.”

Isabelle Gil

French researcher Isabelle Gil started out her academic life at Pantheon Sorbonne University interested in coastal geomorphology but exposure to the world of research drove her to change direction. For Isabelle, the new path was in the growing field of paleoclimatology. Today Isabelle has a post-doc working jointly for LNEG, the Portuguese National Laboratory for Energy and Geology and WHOI where she studies diatoms present in cored marine sediments from the North Atlantic to gather data about paleoclimates.

Isabelle chose to do her research practical abroad, studying coastal geomorphology in Brazil. Once in Brazil she learned that there was no funding available to analyze beach rocks but the group at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro offered her the opportunity to learn about coring, sampling and studying diatoms from the coastal lagoon (click here for non-satellite map). At that point her education had been preparing her for a vocational degree but she was introduced to the world of academic research and she was hooked! She returned to Europe to continue working on these cores, completed her DEA at University of Bordeaux I and moved on to study and write about diatoms in ocean cores for her Ph.D at Bremen University in Germany. One of the cores she worked on for this degree was from the Laurentian Fan (sound familiar?) sent to her by our Chief Scientist, Lloyd Keigwin! Now Isabelle will return to Lisbon and start digging in to all the samples she has gathered from the Western Atlantic. This paleodata will be used in climate modeling. Her favorite part about being at sea? “It’s great to see how the work is done – it really balances the time you spend behind the microscope and writing up papers. It’s the fun part!”

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