Senior Scientists

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East Pacific Rise

Karen Von Damm

University of New Hampshire

Dr. Von Damm of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space (EOS) and Dept. of Earth Sciences studies the compositions of hydrothermal fluids. Karen's research helps improve our understanding of the hydrothermal flux of various ocean chemical elements, the processes that occur in the upper oceanic crust, and how changes in fluid compositions may affect co-existing biological communities. On this expedition, Karen will make collections at as many high-temperature smokers as possible, providing a survey of these vents in space and time and continuing her time series work at 9° 50'N which began in 1991.


Robert Zierenberg

University of California-Davis

Dr. Robert “Z” Zierenberg studies the fluid/rock interactions that control the composition of hydrothermal fluids, which, in turn, determine the minerals that precipitate to form metallic ore deposits at vents. During his various expeditions at sea, Z has learned “that in the environments around hydrothermal vents, the chemistry affects the biology and the biology affects the rocks, and you can’t truly understand any of it without looking at the bigger picture.” On this expedition, he will collect rocks and aid in the exploration of undocumented vents.


Stephane Hourdrez

Roscoff Marine Labroratory

Dr. Stephane Hourdez specializes in research on how scale worms—or polynoids, a family of polychaetes—have evolved to survive in the low oxygen habitats of hydrothermal vents and cold-seeps. Because this group also includes species from high-oxygen habitats and has a known evolutionary history, they are ideally suited for studies of how animals can over evolutionary time adapt to extremely low oxygen habitats. During this cruise, Stephane will sample these worms to study metabolic enzymes and, back home in his lab, aspects of their genetics.


James McClain

University of California-Davis

Dr. Jim McClain uses geophysical methods, which can document the earthquake activity and the distribution of gravity anomalies, and geological observations to better understand how processes at the mid-ocean spreading centers interact to create complex patterns. Jim's at-sea research focuses on hydrothermal systems, ridge-axis structures, and near-ridge phenomena such as fracture zones and seamounts. On this expedition, he will be collecting bathymetric data on the East Pacific Rise.