Magazine article Oceanus

Pop Goes the Seafloor Rock

Magazine article Oceanus

Pop Goes the Seafloor Rock

Article excerpt

RESEARCHERS HUNT FOR SEAFLOOR LAVAS TO REVEAL THE INNER WORKINGS OF OUR PLANET

In 1985, researchers aboard the Soviet research vessel Akademik Boris Petrov made a surprising find near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at 140°N:

Volcanic rocks that popped when they were brought on deck!

*Russian for "Rocks!" **Russian for "The rocks, they pop!"

Gases from deep inside the Earth were trapped in tiny glass vesicles within the rocks. Brought to the surface, the rocks were no longer under deep-sea pressure and the gases escaped with a pop. But popping rocks have never been directly observed or directly sampled on the seafloor. Were these rocks a weird anomaly? In 2016, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution geochemist Mark Kurz and geologists Adam Soule and Dan Fornari returned to the region.

On the mission was Meghan Jones, a graduate student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography, seen here inside Alvin.

Alvin used its manipulator arm to pick up potential popping rocks on its first dive.

When Alvin resurfaced, researchers brought the rocks from the seafloor into a lab on the ship. …

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