Exploring the ocean’s deepest zone with $1.2M Keck Foundation grant

The deepest 45 percent of the ocean depth range remains one of the most unexplored and inaccessible regions on the planet. Twelve people have walked on the moon while only three people have ever been to the deepest part of the ocean. Armed with a $1.2 million award from the W.M. Keck Foundation, a team from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, along with industry partners, is on track to build a Hadal Water Column Profiler (HWCP). Research possible thanks to HWCP will create new understanding of the deep ocean’s impact on the climate and biological communities.

The hadal zone, waters deeper than 3.75 miles, covers an area larger than the size of Texas and has pressures approaching 1,100 times atmospheric pressure, at the deepest point (16,000 psi, which is equivalent to having two rhinoceros on your thumb). Very little is known about the circulation, mixing, chemical properties and biological communities in the water of these deep ocean trenches.

This three-year project will involve a highly qualified team of scientists, engineers and technicians from SOEST includes:

Glenn Carter, a physical oceanographer who made the first turbulent mixing measurements in the ~5km deep Samoan Passage, the primary flow pathway of Antarctic Bottom Water into the North Pacific

Jeffrey Drazen, a deep-sea ecologist and a founding member of the Hadal Ecosystems Studies program and chief scientist for a hadal cruise to the Mariana Trench

Bruce Howe, the lead investigator on the Aloha Cabled Observatory, the deepest such observatory in the world

Chris Measures, a chemical oceanographer who was one of the authors of the international GEOTRACES Science Plan.

Read more at UH News.