OCEAN 121 Deep Sea Exploration: Submarine Volcanoes and Novel Life

Extreme Environments

Through an interactive seminar-style approach, discussions, and complementary videos, this 2-credit course will provide you with an introduction to some of the amazing processes that operate in the deepest parts of the world’s oceans. Over 60% of the volcanism on Earth operates beneath the ocean’s surface. Here, interconnected geological, biological and hydrological processes create some of the most extreme environments on our planet. Submarine volcanoes drive 700°F underwater hot springs at more than a mile beneath the oceans surface. These fluids support communities of novel life forms, which thrive in the absence of sunlight and oxygen. Indeed, here is where life may have originated. Only in the past few decades have scientists had the technology to discover and explore these deep-sea environments.

This course meets Wednesdays 2:30-4:20

There are no formal requirements as prerequisites - all are welcome.

The goals of this course are to:

  • Help you gain new knowledge about dynamic marine processes that shape our planet.
  • Provide you with an understanding about why these processes are important share with you exciting, cutting-edge technologies,  such as robotic vehicles and internet-connected underwater observatories that are currently being used and developed to explore and interact with the oceans in new ways.
  • Provide a learning environment that encourages you to ask scientific questions and to critically explore methods of addressing these questions.
  • Introduce you to the discovery process by providing you with first-hand accounts of what it is like to dive in the 3-person submersible Alvin to depths of 4,000 meters (13,000 ft), the discovery of the novel Lost City Hydrothermal Field, and what its like to explore an erupting underwater volcano for the first time.
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