Sammamish High School (WA)

Send us your questions with email to:
(Please identify your school in the email-thanks!)

Sammamish High School (Earth Science), Bellevue, WA----
An assortment of questions received from Sammamish High School via Skype. We’ll answer more questions during our Skype call. Thanks!

What parts of bacteria that live in these deep ocean vents have the possible ability to have medical benefits?
Hi, Thanks for your question. Bacteria create chemicals called secondary metabolites, which are a byproduct that the bacteria produces, not to survive (so not primary) but produces and doesn’t use. These chemicals are extracted from the bacteria and tested to determine whether they have useful properties, by putting them in the presence of bacteria that are diseases (like E. Coli) or cancers. If the secondary metabolites produce a negative effect on the disease samples, then they may have potential to help fight those diseases and further research to isolate the exact chemical or genes would be completed.


Is a caldera just a type of volcano, or is it something else?
Thanks for your question Kelsi, a caldera is a large section of the volcano that has dropped down, usually in association with an eruption. A simplistic way to think of it is that during an eruption the magma that is in the volcano erupts to the surface so a large volume of material is no longer in side, supporting the roof structure. This causes large sections of the roof to collapse, or cave in, which results in a down-dropped section of the volcano. This is the caldera. Calderas form on a variety of volcanoes, but is a structure associated with the volcano rather than a specific type of volcano.


How does clear water from the CTD determine calm seas?
Hi Nhuy, we posted the photo of the CTD under the surface to show how calm the seas are- normally the ocean’s surface has waves that obscure our ability to see at great depth, we were lucky to have such calm seas, so snapped a photo of the CTD still visible below the surface.

Thanks, Rachel

Hi I'm extremely interested in the marine life of the deep sea. I was wondering, what are a few species that are unique to the areas surrounding these vents?
Hi, We see a great diversity of deep sea life, ranging from a variety of worms (e.g. tube worms, palm worms), limpets, crabs, sea cucumbers, sea stars and brittle stars. There are also fish and sometimes octopi and squid. For more information on life on the seafloor, check out this website:

Thanks, Rachel

How does the expedition relate to chemistry?
Hi, Thanks for your question. We are using chemical analyses in a couple of different ways. CTD measurements help us understand the dissolved oxygen, salinity, and other properties of seawater in a vertical column, so we can see how those factors vary with depth. That information can be used for a variety of oceanography projects, including as a comparison for water chemistry around the hydrothermal vents. The composition of the sea water around the vents also helps us understand conditions available for the organisms that live around the vents to survive.

Thanks, Rachel

How will the weather affect your research?
Hi, Weather plays a factor in things going on at the surface, including the ability to launch ROV Jason (if there’s too much wind or the waves are too rough, we might not be able to launch the vehicle). Once in the water, Jason is tethered to Medea which is connected to the ship so that it can decouple the connection from the ship to the ROV. This helps keep Jason from being jerked around on the sea floor by the ship bobbing in the waves on the surface. Similarly, hoisted instruments that need to be on a winch or crane on the ship’s deck is done much more safely in calm seas. Fortunately, that has been the case for this cruise; we have had very calm seas and not a lot of wind.

Thanks, Rachel