2-square-mile (10-square-kilometer) area around a series of small volcanic craters on the Gakkel Ridge.
These are the first pyroclastic deposits we've ever found in such deep water, at oppressive pressures that inhibit the formation of steam, and many people thought this was not possible," said WHOI geophysicist Rob Reves-Sohn, chief scientist of an expedition to the Gakkel Ridge in July 2007.
Under the ice and 2 kilometers of water was a 1,800-km-long underwater mountain range known as the Gakkel Ridge.
The surprising discovery of mantle rocks indicated that Gakkel Ridge is one of only two places known on the planet where the tectonic plates that make up Earth's hard outer crust slide apart and expose large slabs of the mantle on the seafloor.
Their dual missions: to test experimental vehicles specially designed and built by WHOI engineers for use in ice-covered oceans and to use them to search for volcanic activity and new deep-sea life forms on the previously unexplored Gakkel Ridge.
A few submarine missions used sonar to make maps of the Gakkel Ridge beneath the eastern Arctic Ocean.
In 2001, she and other scientists used icebreakers to plow their way across the Arctic Ocean to make measurements along a 1,100-kilometer segment of the 1,800-km-long Gakkel Ridge
Microbiologist Elisabeth Helmke from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany (above right) scrapes orange deposits from a Gakkel Ridge
rock snatched up by Camper's grabber.
Like all mid-ocean ridges, the Gakkel Ridge
is an undersea volcanic mountain chain where magma erupts to create new ocean crust that spreads out on both sides of the ridge.
We made the first detailed maps of large portions of the Gakkel Ridge
, which extends from north of Greenland almost to Siberia.
Expeditions to the Southwest Indian Ridge in 2000 and the Gakkel Ridge
(under the Arctic Ocean) in 2001 revealed that hydrothermal venting occurs on even the slowest spreading portions of the mid-ocean ridge system.
icebreaker Healy found evidence from water samples and seafloor rocks of far more volcanism and hydrothermal venting than was predicted on the ultra-slow-spreading Gakkel Ridge
in the Arctic Ocean.