UW Today

This is an archived article.

May 14, 2002

Teachers from across Washington state join UW sea-going expedition

News and Information

Log on starting Wednesday to join researchers and five public-school teachers on an oceanographic expedition aboard the University of Washington’s research vessel the Thomas G. Thompson as it works off our coast.

Join the expedition via the Internet May 15-21 at http://oceanweb.ocean.washington.edu/outreach/revel where the logbook will be updated each day. Questions are welcome and can be sent to the research vessel at revel@ocean.washington.edu.

U.S. and Canadian scientists will be mapping the seafloor off the coast of Washington and British Columbia in preparation for future underwater observatory experiments through the Neptune Project. Neptune scientists one day hope to wire 150,000 square miles of seafloor with special cables and instruments to learn more about the dynamic geology off our coast, investigate deep-sea ecology, track migrating whales, assess stocks of endangered fish, lead to breakthroughs in understanding the Northwest’s difficult-to-predict weather and someday help predict earthquakes and tsunamis.

Joining the scientists are public-school teachers Ruth Cruz from Carnation’s Tolt Middle School, Kathleen Heidenreich from Lacey’s Chinook Middle School, Tom Lee from Battle Ground’s Columbia Adventist Academy, Kathie Robertson from Stanwood Middle School and Midge Yergen from Yakima’s West Valley Middle School.

The teachers are part of the REVEL (Research and Education: Volcanoes, Exploration and Life) program originated at the University of Washington to give science teachers chances to participate in oceanographic research and cutting-edge science.

Along with working closely with the scientists, the REVEL program helps teachers transfer what they’ve learned to the classroom, share what they’ve learned with other teachers at their schools and collaborate with a national network of researchers and educational professionals, according to Veronique Robigou, UW oceanographer and co-director of the REVEL program.

The teachers and scientists, led by UW oceanographers John R. Delaney and Deborah S. Kelley, will use a state-of-the-art system on the research vessel to map the seafloor at two areas that have been selected to install proto-observatories on the Juan de Fuca Plate.

One is on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, a volcanic ridge a mile below the ocean surface and the site of numerous hydrothermal vents. The vents ooze and spew water that has percolated deep in the Earth’s crust, becoming superheated to as much as 600 degrees Fahrenheit and picking up minerals. These minerals form craggy peaks, spires and huge mounds on the seafloor and become home to unusual microorganisms, colorful tubeworms and other life.

The other site is located along the Nootka Fault, the northernmost edge of the Juan de Fuca Plate. This area, covered by thick sediments, is known for its intense earthquake activity and for the presence of subduction gases, a potential energy resource but also a significant source of greenhouse gases.

Twenty-nine teachers from Washington state have participated since the REVEL
program was launched in 1996. Funding this expedition are the National Science Foundation and the University of Washington.
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For more information May 15-21, Angie Thomson-Bulldis, 206-616-6692, angiet@u.washington.edu
After May 21: Veronique Robigou, (206) 543-9282, vero@ocean.washington.edu