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Submarine Volcanoes in Arctic Ocean Surprise Scientists

Until now, geoscientists believed that spreading ridges under the Arctic Ocean were too slow-spreading and cool to vent molten rock. An article published this month in Nature details sonar data revealing two young volcanoes under Arctic waters. Dr. Marago H. Edwards of the University of Hawaii led the exploration team in which civilian scientists worked in cooperation with the Navy, using a nuclear submarine to take sonar readings of the ocean floor. A submarine was employed because the ice cover makes the Arctic seafloor unviewable by satellites and difficult for ships bearing seismic instruments to navigate. The two volcanoes were found at the Gakkel Ridge, the Earth's slowest spreading mid-ocean ridge. During August and September of 2001, Russian icebreakers and Mir submersibles will be employed to investigate the volcanoes, taking rock samples and looking for organisms living at the volcanic vents. This week's In the News takes a closer look at this discovery.
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