About the NOVAE Approach to Mid-Ocean Ridge Research & Education
The initial purpose of this web site was to support the NOVAE Workshop Activities which took place on April 20-22, 2015, in Seattle. The objective of that workshop was to assess where the community stood on the future study of Axial Volcano since it was still quite restless and was also wired with the OOI Cabled System now known as the Cabled Array. Shortly after the participants returned home, the volcano erupted as has now been documented by a series of papers ( References ). At the time, the community tried to mount a rapid response cruise, but was informed that there simply was not enough support, nor were there appropriate facilities that could be redirected to the activities implicit in an immediate cruise. Several ships and investigator groups eventually arrived at the sites involved but by that time 3.5 months had passed and there were no recognizable indications of plumes in the overlying water-column.
A considerable amount of material is still on the NOVAE site and it will not be repurposed to support the community efforts focused on implementing the concept of a RESIDENT-AUV System at the location on the summit of Axial where Primary Note 3 B is located just NE of the edge of the Caldera. Over the coming weeks and following the NSF-supported R-AUV Workshop, this NOVAE Website will become the community clearing house for content that is germane to the new approach of installing a long-term, interactive autonomous robotic sensor system on the volcano, poised to capture events before, during and after the next eruption.
The goals of NOVAE are to explore long-term strategies to take advantage of the convergence of two significant conditions: 1) Axial Seamount, a mid-ocean ridge volcano-hydrothermal system, has been and will be, very active for decades; and, 2) The NSF-supported Ocean Observatories Initiative has fully installed a high bandwidth, high power, cabled sensor-robotic array off the WA-OR coast. This system includes a host of sensors at the summit of Axial Seamount and at its base. The co-location of the highly active volcano and cutting edge telepresence is enabling a spectrum of novel, remote, scientific measurements and experiments to explore the myriad interactive processes operating within a single, complicated submarine system and its effects on the overlying ocean.
The workshop brought together teams of modelers, marine geophysicists, seismologists, submarine volcanologists, fluid and volatile chemists, microbiologists, physical, chemical and biological oceanographers, and a host of engineers and marine technologists from academia and industry to lay out long-range plans for optimizing the historic opportunities implicit in this unique situation. The scientific goals, questions and hypotheses must drive the overall effort forward. As a community we much seek to employ all the current and next-generation tools that oceanographers can bring to bear on on the issues that face us in trying to understand mid-ocean ridge (MOR) systems (where 70% of the volcanism on Earth occurs) and their effects on the global ocean.
The NOVAE workshop in April was designed to treat Axial as a first-order representative of MOR volcano-hydrothermal systems and their broader impacts on ocean processes. In that context, the objectives included to: 1) review what is known about Axial and other similar systems, 2) explore current expected uses of the OOI Cabled Array as configured, 3) develop community consensus regarding a suite of driving scientific questions and hypotheses, 4) move toward consensus on upgrades, additions, or expansions of sensor-robotic arrays required to advance understanding of the processes and impacts of an erupting submarine volcano, 5) discuss technological configurations that can complement and enhance cable-based research objectives - examples might include gliders, AUV’s, crawlers, eco-genomic sensors, Argo Floats, aerial vehicles, innovative cameras, etc.), and, finally, 6) lay out a strategy for a major modeling effort to capture and document changes, assimilate data, simulate interacting processes, and reveal unanticipated phenomena to feed back into the observational plans for the overall system. A workshop report will capture the deliberations on all these topics and a summary will be published in EOS.
The time is appropriate for the scientific and educational communities interested in the encompassing topics and issues associated with taking a comprehensive approach to the study of a complex submarine system, to come together for discussions of the near-term (5 year), intermediate-term (10-15 year), and long-term (>20 years) uses of all the assets in our entire ‘oceanographic tool box’ to continue operating in new ways within the deep ocean without sacrificing the more traditional approaches that have served us so well.
As we capture, document, and quantify energetic events in unique ways, we will be designing ever better approaches to study Axial, and other MOR systems, in the decades to come. Moreover, it will be possible to share the entire process of discovery and understanding with interested members of the public via the Internet. Students of all ages can watch over our shoulders electronically, as we document, experiment with, and learn about how active underwater volcanic systems work.