This group of very old tubeworms (Lamellibrachia luymesi and Seepiophila jonesi) lives on the same piece of carbonate rock as large colonies of the gorgonian Callogorgia Americana americana, with brittle stars and a galatheid crab crawling on the gorgonians. Click image for larger view and image credit.

Expedition to the Deep Slope

May 7 - June 2, 2006

The Expedition to the Deep Slope is the first systematic exploration of hydrocarbon-seep communities deeper than 1,000 m in the Gulf of Mexico. Funded by the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the leader in supporting the scientific characterization of seep communities in the Gulf of Mexico, and NOAA Ocean Exploration (OE), our diverse team of scientists will be using the research vessel Atlantis and the deep submergence vehicle Alvin to dive on sites never visited before by humans. The team assembled includes scientists who have led the exploration, discovery, and study of the Gulf of Mexico cold seeps for the last 20 years. We have also invited leading international seep scientists from Germany, France, and Austria to complement our expertise. On this cruise, geologists and geochemists will be working alongside microbiologists, physiologists, and ecologists to maximize what can be learned about the deep Gulf of Mexico cold seeps and coral communities.


Mission Facts

Updates & Logs
Click images or links below for detailed mission logs and updates.

June 1 June 1 Despite almost 30 years of exploring and researching chemosynthetic communities, scientists still have many more questions than answers. Plus, reflections on what you miss at sea.
May 31 May 31 Diving in the deep submergence vehicle (DSV) Alvin, scientists discover a mysterious brine lake and a very inquisitive octopod. Includes a podcast icon camera icon video.

May 30 May 30 The team investigates a deep-sea "Coral Garden" filled with many types of coral in an amazing array of colors.

May 28 May 28 What are two teachers doing on this cruise? They're cooking up ways to interest kids in science.

May 26 May 26 The team employs photomosaics to better understand the deep underwater sites they visit.

May 24 May 24 The research vessel (R/V) Atlantis and DSV Alvin combine to form one of the premier ocean science exploration and research tandems in the world. Includes a camera icon video.

May 23 May 23 To study methane dynamics in the Gulf of Mexico, the team uses sonar, water sampling, chemical sensors, and laboratory techniques.

May 21 May 21 An unexpected vacancy becomes an opportunity for a coral expert to join the expedition at sea.

May 20 May 20 A microbiologist collects football-sized mussels in an effort to understand the symbiotic bacteria in their gills.

May 19 May 19 A college student never imagined that one day she would be descending to the sea floor in a submersible. Includes a camera icon video.

May 17 May 17 The team investigates a promising part of the sea floor using their sub and discovers "Mussel Mound." Includes a camera icon video.

May 16 May 16 All life is based on energy from the sun, right? Yet, an oasis of animal life exists in the ocean's dark depths.

May 15 May 15 A graduate student spends a day on the bottom of the ocean and discovers a treasure of mussels and other creatures. Includes a camera icon video.

May 14 May 14 How do you pack a sub? Very carefully.

May 13 May 13 Tubeworms are very strange animals — and the team has discovered a new species of one.

May 12 May 12 Using a beam trawl, the R/V Atlantis crew goes "fishing" on the seabed for interesting organisms.

May 10 May 10 The second dive of the expedition investigates a seep site at 1,200 meters, a depth where our knowledge of the ecology is especially scarce. Includes a camera icon video.

may 09 May 9 The expedition team takes their first dive and celebrates with a cold bucket of mud.

may 08 May 8 To find new seep and hardground communities in the deep Gulf of Mexico required the work of deep-sea detectives.