Monday, March 2, 2015

An anxious beginning

Tuesday 3rd March 2015 – Devonport Naval Base

Welcome to the submarine volcanoes blog! My name is Josh Hayes, I am a University of Canterbury post-graduate student who has the great fortune of joining this exciting research collaboration between GNS Science, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Royal New Zealand Navy.
We are about to embark on a journey on board the New Zealand Navy vessel HMNZS Wellington to a chain of volcanoes that stretch northeastwards from the Bay of Plenty to Tonga and beyond, and commonly known as the Kermadec Arc. What we are particularly interested in is building detailed geological maps of two submarine volcanoes (Macauley and Giggenbach) and increasing our understanding on the seafloor hydrothermal systems they host (more on this in a later blog!).

To do this we will be using an awesome piece of equipment called Sentry (pictured) which is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Sentry will be deployed from the Wellington and will dive to the seafloor, where it will ‘fly’ above the rocks and sediments at an altitude of about 65 m.  It will map the bathymetry (depth and shape of the seafloor) in high resolution (about 1-2 m) as it travels across the summits and calderas of the volcanoes, collecting various types of data which can be used to build 3D maps.

We will also be stopping at Raoul Island to drop off supplies and people from the Department of Conservation (DoC). In addition, one of our scientists will spend the duration of the trip at Raoul Island to collect rock samples.  These will be useful as they provide insight into volcanic processes occurring on submarine volcanoes without the need to collect rocks from the sea floor.
We are currently docked at Devonport Naval Base while the team prepares for the trip ahead. We were scheduled for departure today, but there are delays due to a few technical issues which need to be solved. While this happens, I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce the research team!

GNS Science
Cornel de Ronde (Chief Scientist)
Cornel is a research geologist with GNS Science. He is the Chief Scientist on this project, and has conducted a lot of research in this area of New Zealand.

Fabio Caratori Tontini

Fabio is a marine geophysicist with GNS Science and will be running the regional gravity and magnetic surveys of the sea floor when Sentry is back aboard the Wellington.

Christian TImm

Christian is a petrologist with GNS Science. We will be dropping Christian at Raoul Island where he will be collecting rock samples.

Arran Murch

Arran is a PhD student at University of Otago studying explosive submarine volcanism. Arran will be assisting Fabio with running the magnetic surveys.

National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA)
Sharon Walker
Sharon is an oceanographer with NOAA. Sharon researches chemical and biological changes in the water column to help zero in on the location of hydrothermal systems.

Carl Kaiser is the operations manager of Sentry. He will be in charge of running Sentry’s trips to the sea floor. Carl has a group of engineers (Andy, Justin, Sean, Zach) working alongside him who will be assisting with deployment and recovery of Sentry.
This will be an absolutely fantastic research journey, and I look forward to providing updates on this blog!
That is all for now. Tomorrow we depart!!!

Sentry AUV. Image from Carl Kaiser.


  1. Josh

    Best wishes to you and the team for a successful cruise. Stay safe!

    Mike McWilliams

  2. Awesome Josh! I'm loving this already! CoUGAR at sea!