Exploring an Unknown Ocean

A view of the ocean over the winches aboard the USCGC Healy.

Henry Dick Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution / NSF


In 2003, scientists funded by the National Science Foundation and its colleagues from Germany announced that, unexpectedly, an ocean ridge under the Arctic ice cap is volcanically active and contains multiple hydrothermal vents. The discovery has caused scientists to consider modifying a decades-long understanding of how ocean ridges work to produce the Earth's crust. The results, which came from a study of the Gakkel Ridge—one of the slowest spreading ridges on Earth—have broad implications for the understanding of the globe-encircling mid-ocean ridge system where melting of the underlying mantle creates the ocean foor.

View video from the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge Expedition (AMORE) expedition.