A note from Anna Michel
Dear friends of the deep sea,
On July 22, we all celebrated when HOV Alvin was certified to its new depth rating of 6500 meters. Incredible teamwork and a lot of hard work by many people went into achieving this. Alvin can now reach 99% of the seafloor.
Immediately following the certification dives, a multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, students, and outreach specialists joined R/V Atlantis for the Science Verification Expedition. Our goal was to test the sub’s ability to conduct science at these new abyssal and upper hadal depths. Both this expedition and Alvin's overhaul were made possible by funding from the National Science Foundation.
The first leg of the cruise took Alvin to the Puerto Rico Trench and was led by Adam Soule, former Chief Scientist for Deep Submergence at the Facility, now URI Professor of Oceanography. The second leg, which I led, brought Alvin to the Mid-Cayman Rise.
Throughout the expedition, Alvin demonstrated its capabilities to conduct science at these new depths, diving fourteen times with eleven first-time divers. We collected 122 samples, dove at the world's deepest known hydrothermal system, and spent 53 hours exploring the seafloor. We encourage you to learn more about the new capabilities of HOV Alvin and what we were able to achieve by exploring the links below.
This week Alvin returns to full science operations with Chief Scientist Dave Valentine (University of California, Santa Barbara) leading a joint Alvin and autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry cruise at oil seeps in the Gulf of Mexico. Valentine’s team is studying the fate of hydrocarbons that enter the ocean. This team also includes many new students and postdocs that we hope will be inspired to become the next generation of Alvin users.
I grew up on the Florida Gulf Coast, and am intently watching Hurricane Ian and my own hometown brace for the storm. While I am excited to share the news of Alvin’s return to science with its dives in the Gulf, my thoughts are with those impacted by Ian and am hoping for the best for all those in its path.
Dr. Anna PM Michel
Chief Scientist for Deep Submergence