Building ocean crust: Quantitative analyses of submarine lava channel formation and laboratory simulations
Tracy Gregg Principal Investigator
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Abstract (0425073) - Gregg<br/>Submarine lava channels are a vital mechanism for lava transport, particularly at mid-ocean ridges where they play an important role in distributing lava away from the ridge axis. However, no one has ever observed an active submarine lava channel, so that its formation, evolution and precise nature of lava delivery are unknown. This research will carry out a detailed study of submarine lava channels at the northern East Pacific Rise (EPR) between 9degrees - 10degreesN, the southern EPR between 17degrees - 19degrees S, the Puna Ridge (the submarine extension of Kilauea volcano's East Rift Zone) and the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Tow-camera data, DSL-120 kHz imagery and dive videos (from manned submersibles and remotely operated vehicles), will be used to identify lava channels from these sites, measure channel depths and lengths and create detailed maps of the surface textures of these channels. These images and maps will be compared to those generated in laboratory experiments using polyethylene glycol wax and cold sucrose solutions to simulate lava channel emplacement processes and how parameters such as flow rate and topography change channel morphology. This work has implications for the generation of seismic layer 2A in ocean crust and improving our understanding of seafloor eruption rates, frequencies, and durations.<br/> Broader impacts include the education and training of a PhD student and undergraduate, support of a female PI and utilization of archived images from previous NSF-funded cruises.