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Marine Geology and Geophysics

The Marine Geology and Geophysics program at the University of Washington focuses on numerous research areas - faculty and students work in marine environments around the globe.

Mid-Ocean Ridge and Subduction Zone Processes involves the examination of the flow of energy and materials from the Earth's interior, through the ocean crust and its associated hydrothermal systems, and into the deep sea. The School of Oceanography's proximity to the Juan de Fuca/Gorda Ridge system and Cascadia subduction zone provides ready access to an ideal natural laboratory for study of the active components of a geological plate. This local focus is complemented by additional work along the global mid-ocean ridge.

Marine Sediment Dynamics concerns the genesis, transport and accumulation of particulate material in the marine environment. Individual faculty members also pursue a number of research themes outside these two focus areas. Our approach to graduate student education builds on a solid academic foundation in the fundamentals of transport phenomena, fluid and continuum mechanics, geochemistry, and data analysis as a basis for understanding the geological processes within the marine environment.

Regional Cabled Array: Southern Hydrate Ridge, Cascadia Subduction Zone, and Axial Seamount: The University of Washington leads the National Science Foundations’ Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Regional Cabled Array. This cutting edge NSF facility, located off the Oregon coast includes 900 km of high power and bandwidth fiber optic cables that connect >140 instruments and instrumented moorings to the ocean Internet. Hundreds of data streams including high definition video, seismic, and acoustic data stream live at the speed of light to shore where they can be accessed through the OOI Data Portal.  Two way communications provide event response capabilities. Sites key to marine geological investigations include Axial Seamount, the largest and most active volcano on the Juan de Fuca Ridge hosting numerous hydrothermal vent sites, Southern Hydrate Ridge, a highly active seep site with numerous methane plumes and seep biota, and the Cascadia Subduction Zone where megathrust events have occurred in the past. Faculty within MGG are playing leading roles in both the operations and maintenance of the Cabled Array, and in making discoveries through use of the data flowing to shore. Numerous undergraduate and graduate students are involved in this effort.

Visit the UW Sediment Dynamics Group Web Site

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