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Sunday, July 17, 2011

RV Celtic Explorer VENTure Survey: Day 2

Date: 16/07/2011
Time: 1830h (UTC)
Position: 52 deg 13.16' N 12 deg 14.88' W
Wind speed: 30 knots


We left the Galway area in the small hours of the morning and headed out into the North Atlantic, where we met lively seas. The swell has been around four metres today, and many of our expedition team have been acclimatising to the motion. But despite the pitching of the ship, Jimmy and Lou in the galley have still conjured up tasty meals for everyone.




After lunch, Bramley Murton from Southampton gave a talk about the geology of our destination: the mid-ocean ridge. The mid-ocean ridge is a 65000 km chain of undersea volcanoes that runs around the globe like the seam on a tennis ball. The volcanoes form where the huge plates of the Earth's crust are moving apart, which happens in the Atlantic at about the same rate that our fingernails grow. The lava erupting from the volcanoes of the mid-ocean ridge creates new crust to fill the gap between the parting plates.


What happens at the mid-ocean ridge shapes our world, but all the details of the geological processes occurring there are still not clear. Seventy years ago, no-one even knew the extent of the mid-ocean ridge, despite it being our planet's longest geological feature. It was only when scientists started comparing echosounder traces from ships crossing the oceans that they realised there was a vast mountain range beneath the waves. Today our journey is taking us there, to the edge of creation of the Earth's crust, to find out more.

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