2 November 2015
Mapping Tamu Massif one swath at a time
Posted by lhwang
This is the latest in a series of dispatches from scientists and education officers aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor. The crew is on 36-day research trip to study Tamu Massif, a massive underwater volcano, located 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Japan in the Shatsky Rise. Read more posts here.
As of the 29th of October 2015, the R/V Falkor has traveled 7544.9 km (4688.2 miles) and covered a total of 59,814.51 sq km (23094.5 sq miles) of the ocean seafloor. Our EM-302 multi-beam echo sounder has pinged 166,268 times collecting 71,827,776 soundings over a swath with an average width of 6781.29 m (4.21 miles). The deepest depth encountered so far is 7786.87 m (4.84 miles), and the average depth we are mapping is around 4448.74 m (2.76 miles). We have successfully completed Lines 1-8 and 14-17 and just began to survey Line 13. Even after almost a month of seeing the data streaming in, it is still exciting to see the features of Tamu Massif as the bathymetric/depth data is processed.
The magnetic data will take some time to analyze, but the exciting news is that chief scientist Dr. William Sager thinks there may be another massif, meaning mountain, on the west end of the volcano that could have formed at the same time as Tamu Massif. It is by no means as large, but the area we are currently collecting data has not been well studied, so there is still much to learn from the magnetic anomalies present in this site.
– Suraida Nanez James is the Manager of Distance Learning and Outreach at the Texas State Aquarium