Welcome Oregon Coast Aquarium's Oceanscape Network!

Oceanscape Networks Virtual expedition to Axial Seamount

Send us your questions with email to:
(Let us know where you are from!)

Throughout the expedition, questions and answers we receive will appear on this page. On the right, there are links to specific sites we will interact with from sea.

Questions and Answers: 

Question from Dylan:
My name is Dylan Sandall and recently you Skyped with my school, Chrysalis Charter School, and have raised a question in my mind: could you create a diet that could sustain a human based on just bacteria or micro organisms that live in or near the hydro thermal vents of Axial Seamount? If not, what if you included animals? What about plants?
Thanks, Dylan

Hi Dylan,
This turned into a really fun question for us (mostly the biologists led us through the calculations, but we all had fun talking about it!).

First we talked about what microbes you could consume safely. Most heterotrophs (the microbes that eat other microbes) would be fine, as would the ones that process hydrogen or methane but you'd have to watch out for the microbes that produce iron or sulfur, which would taste bad and could be toxic. We thought about the nutritional value and the microbes are full of protein, have many vitamins and some sugars.

Our next task was to try to predict how much microbial material you would need to eat. Based on a 2000 calorie diet, we figured you would need to eat about 6 pounds of microbes, which we think would be the same as about 1 1/2 gallons.

Thanks for the great question, I learned a lot and the biologists had a great time figuring this out too!

Axial Seamount 2015 Expedition

Question from Scott's (with Jason) dad:
One question: if the Cascadia subduction zone shifts along its entire length, 700mi, @ +9-10 will the forces generated trigger the Yellowstone caldera, which is now some years overdue?

Thanks for your dad's question.
A major earthquake along the Cascadia subduction zone could certainly be catastrophic but is not likely to have an impact on volcanic activity at Yellowstone. There have been isolated cases where tectonic earthquakes have affected magmatic systems, but in those cases, the volcanoes were on the "verge" of erupting already, and the earthquake served as a final "trigger". We don't think that's the case at Yellowstone, where the magmatic system is well monitored and shows no signs of imminent eruption. The last major eruption there was approximately 640,000 years ago but there have been major Cascadia earthquakes since then, (e.g. in January of 1700 there was a Magnitude 8.7-9.2 earthquake, which generated the "Orphan Tsunami" in Japan) with no effect at Yellowstone. The recurrence interval that is sometimes quoted as somewhere between 600,000-800,000 years for a major eruption at Yellowstone is based on just 3 eruptions, so the data set is pretty small (but admittedly, is the best we have).

Thanks again for the question!
Rachel Axial Seamount 2015 Expedition