Watch Live Underwater: Exploration of World’s Longest Mountain Range

This summer (July 17 to 29 and August 7 to 28), you can join NOAA Ocean Exploration and partners live as they explore the longest mountain range in the world: the mid-ocean ridge. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge portion of this range spans the north-south length of the Atlantic Ocean and stretches 16,000 km (10,000 mi.). This largely unexplored underwater mountain range has captivated the imagination of explorers for more than a century.

As one of the most prominent geological features on Earth, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a divergent plate boundary and the site of volcanic eruptions and frequent earthquakes. Spectacular hydrothermal vents may form where geologic processes create heat that rises from deep in the Earth to the seafloor along the ridge. These vents are known to support diverse chemosynthetic communities that include bacteria and other organisms that survive on inorganic chemical reactions. But what life is found at these sites once vents go extinct? What lies beyond the vents, further away from the rift zone? What about along the steep walls and topographic highs of the spreading center?

During Voyage to the Ridge 2022, scientists hope to begin to reveal answers to some of these questions, collecting data along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Azores Plateau and Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone to support decision making about sensitive marine life and habitats, geological features and potential resources. 

An ROV will dive from NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to explore deep-sea coral and sponge habitats, potential hydrothermal vent and extinct polymetallic sulfide systems, fracture and rift zones, and the diverse life in the ocean’s water column from surface to seafloor.

Tune into the exploration here.

Leave a Reply