Editor’s Note: Journalist and crew member Kathryn Eident is traveling on board the RV Atlantis on a monthlong voyage to explore undersea volcanism in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, among other research projects. This is the first blog post detailing this voyage of discovery for ScientificAmerican.com .
02º36′ N x 94º47′ W–Thousands of feet below the research vessel Atlantis , three people are roaming the seafloor. With a bathymetric map–a topographical of the seafloor–to chart the way, two scientists and a pilot glide over a craggy landscape filled with seamounts, volcanoes and small valleys. The darkness around them is absolute–they can only see what’s immediately in front of them with the lights they’ve brought. They’ve been at the bottom of the ocean for a few hours now, collecting rock samples, taking pictures and capturing video. Soon, they will ascend through the depths and returnto the ship. [More]