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Flower Garden Banks underwater photo
Mission notebook

Mission Log March 6, 2007

by G.P. Schmahl
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent

Mud volcano
Gases and sediment bubbling in the crater at the top of the mud volcano. (Photo: Institute for Exploration / University of Rhode Island Institute for Archeological Oceanography)
Today the Argus was deployed in a very interesting area south of the East and West Flower Garden Banks. This area was not known very well until several years ago when high resolution multibeam bathymetry was obtained by the U.S. Geological Survey. The surveys revealed a number of ridges, scarps, and patch reefs in depths from 60 to 150 meters and the presence of a "mud volcano" at this location.

We arrived at the mud volcano around mid day, and the Argus obtained spectacular video of the volcano "erupting" bubbles of methane gas. It was an incredible sight! Dr. Bob Ballard was viewing the video of this and expressed his amazement at the phenomenon. In spite of a lifetime of marine exploration, Dr. Ballard had never witnessed a "live" mud volcano before. The team also explored some highly diverse deep reef communities and algal nodule habitat on the scarps and ridges of this important feature.

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