We wrote a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) to obtain funding for our investigation of the Puna Ridge. For the cruise we put together a group of scientists whose research experiences span not only Hawaii, but also other oceanic islands, seamounts, and mid-ocean ridges, where processes controlling magma movement and eruption are similar to those at the Puna Ridge. The competition for research funds is intense, and our proposal had to convince the reviewers that understanding the behavior of the Puna Ridge is very important.
Scientists have studied the dynamics of the subaerial (above ground) portion of the East Rift Zone. Little, however, is known about the submarine (underwater) portion. Our voyage will be the first to explore in detail the formally inaccessible Puna Ridge.
Much can be learned about a volcano by studying its shape and composition. For 34 days, we will map and photograph Puna Ridge, take magnetic readings, and collect rock samples. We will examine the sizes and locations of lava fields, fissures, and other volcanic features. We will analyze the rocks to determine their chemical composition. This information will tell us a lot about the formation of the East Rift Zone and give us valuable information about the behavior of Kilauea and similar volcanoes.
Here are some of the questions that particularly interest us: