I thought I might provide a little bit of background about why we're on this research cruise. This expedition is a part of the Cascadia Initiative, a multi-year endeavor to better understand the seismicity and structure of the Cascadia subduction zone off the coast of Oregon, Washington and Vancouver Island. A subduction zone is where two plates collide and one, usually a denser oceanic plate, sinks (subducts) beneath an overriding plate, usually a lighter continental plate. The best analogy I can think of is in airports at the ends of the moving sidewalks (you know, where that same peevish robotic voice in every airport says "The moving walkway is approaching the end. Please watch your step") where the moving walkway (our subducting plate) bends down beneath the stationary floor (our overriding plate). There are a lot of great images for this on the internet if you're finding it tough to visualize. Subduction zones matter. Vast numbers of people live near them and they are capable of generating tremendous earthquakes. We know the precise date in 1700 A.D. that the last great quake (a magnitude 9!) shook the Cascadia subduction zone from Japanese records of a devastating tsunami. To accurately determine the locations of small earthquakes in subduction zones (which inform our understanding of their structure) we need to place seismometers off-shore on the ocean bottom to augment the land-based stations. On this cruise, we are picking up seismometers which were deployed here a year ago and have been recording the seismicity for the past year.
Anyways, that's the (extremely short) version of why we're out here. If you're curious for more detail please comment below and I'll happily reply. More posts about ship living, robots, dolphins and whales will be coming soon (or at least as soon as I have more uniterrupted time to write). And yes, I have a lot of photos but they will have to wait until I'm back on land, and not on satellite internet, to upload.
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