Oceanography team leads study of unexpected seafloor seep

Pythias Pushcore Yellow Mat

A study led by our own Brendan Philip (Lead Author and UW Ocean alumnus), Evan Solomon (co-PI) and Deb Kelley (Lead PI and Chief Scientist) discovered seeps of warm, chemically distinct liquid shooting up from the seafloor about 50 miles off Newport, Oregon. Observations suggest the spring is sourced from water 2.5 miles beneath the seafloor at the plate boundary, regulating stress on the offshore fault. The team made the discovery during a weather-related delay for a cruise aboard the RV Thomas G. Thompson. The ship’s sonar showed unexpected plumes of bubbles about three-quarters of a mile beneath the ocean’s surface. Further exploration using an underwater robot revealed the bubbles were just a minor component of warm, chemically distinct fluid gushing from the seafloor sediment.

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