delware environmental institute

UD professor George Luther and students dive deep along the East Pacific Rise

It takes about an hour and a half to descend the 1.7 miles to the ocean floor along the East Pacific Rise in the deep-sea submersible Alvin. Travel conditions are a bit cramped since the submarine is only 8 feet in diameter and seats just three people. It’s dark, there is no bathroom, air conditioning or heat and the farther below the surface you go, the colder it gets (down to about 35 degrees Fahrenheit).

But students from the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment lined up willingly for the chance to get a firsthand glimpse at what is emanating from hydrothermal vents in this region of the Pacific Ocean.

The students will participate in a series of dives in Alvin from March 27-April 16 at 9 North, a region of hydrothermal vent activity situated along the East Pacific Rise in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 560 miles off the coast of Acapulco, Mexico.

Under the guidance of UD professor and oceanographer George Luther, they will work to better understand what is emanating from these vents by taking samples, capturing video and performing experiments and calculations aboard the Alvin and its mother ship, the R/V Atlantis.