Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Launching Jason

This evening, at about 4:30 p.m. local time, the Jason Team launched Jason for the first time on this cruise. This remotely operated underwater vehicle will allow us to explore the seafloor and collect samples while we watch from the surface. More than a dozen scientists, engineers, technicians, and support staff make up the Jason Team and specialize in maintenance and operation of the vehicle. The team is based at the WHOI, but travels with Jason on expeditions around the world. Read more about the vehicle here and watch the vehicle being launched below.


The science team is extremely excited to see what Jason discovers and as it explores Havre’s caldera. Will it find obsidian, pumice, coherent lava bodies, hydrothermal vents, pyroclastic flow deposits, all of the above, or something entirely unexpected? We don’t know.

We do know that the types of rocks and deposits we find will not only tell us about the eruption that occurred here at Havre in 2012, but will also teach us about how volcanoes erupt underwater and why they sometimes erupt explosively. Until three years ago no one had seen an eruption like Havre 2012. Until now, no one has observed or made quantitative measurements of recent deposits from a deep, explosive submarine eruption. As a result, some very basic science questions have yet to be answered, despite the fact that the vast majority of volcanic activity on Earth occurring underwater

As I type Jason is descending descends to Havre’s caldera 1600 meters (1 mile) beneath the surface on the seafloor. In a few hours we may start making our first discoveries. A lot of effort and expertise from dozens of people and institutions has made this expedition possible, and to make the most of our resources, the science and Jason teams will be operating the vehicle around-the-clock.

The rock samples and observations from the Jason dives will be the first of their kind, and the data we collect may very well spawn new models for submarine volcanism and (at least this blogger believes) stand as lasting and substantial contributions to planetary volcanology.

We are nearing the bottom now and I can’t wait to get started.