And Sometimes You Luck Out

From Science Online…


In April 2006, Maya Tolstoy, a geophysicist at Columbia University, received some good news and some bad news during a research expedition at sea. The submarine volcano that she and her colleague Felix Waldhauser had been monitoring for years had recently erupted. This was exciting, because only a handful of other deep-sea eruptions have been detected (1), and it was the first time ocean-bottom seismometers were in place during such an event. However, two-thirds of the instruments were stuck in the new lava on the sea floor (see the figure). Would the remaining third yield the data needed to gain new insights into this fundamental but poorly understood geological process? In the end, the good news outweighed the bad. The instruments that were recovered provided some remarkable results, as Tolstoy et al. report on page 1920 of this issue (2). Also, this may only be the first installment in this story, because there is hope that more instruments can be rescued from the sea floor.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

2 comments on “And Sometimes You Luck Out
  1. We need to put together an urgent top priority mission to recover those imstruments – quick, call Bruce Willis!

  2. Perhaps, but Bruce Willis blew up the comet in Armageddon. So he probably wouldn’t be as delicate as would be required. We need Tommy Lee Jones from Volcano!

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