Maug’s Caldera: A Natural Laboratory

Changing Seas TV: New episode highlights JISAO ocean acidification research

Divers working under the seaA new episode for the Changing Seas TV series was broadcast this week (June 28) on South Florida PBS WPBT2 focusing on PMEL’s May 2014 expedition to Maug Island, about 450 miles north of Guam to study volcanic ocean acidification. Maug is a remarkable ocean setting in the Northern Mariana Islands that few people have seen and provides scientists with an extraordinary natural laboratory for ocean acidification research. The half-hour episode, co-produced by WPBT2 South Florida PBS and Open Boat Films is available online at Changing Seas TV.

In May 2014, OAR/PMEL’s Earth-Ocean Interactions (EOI) group led by JISAO scientist David Butterfield, in collaboration with NMFS/ Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center Coral Reef Ecosystem Division conducted a 10-day expedition on the NOAA ship Hi’ialakai to Maug to study the effects of ocean acidification on coral reef ecosystems. Maug is a flooded caldera where volcanic CO2 vents directly into a shallow coral reef, causing long-term local changes in seawater chemistry that are similar to the effects of global ocean acidification.

JISAO scientists David Butterfield, Nathan Buck, Pamela Barrett, Kevin Roe and Ben Larson participated in the expedition, along with Susanna Michael, a graduate student at UW’s School of Oceanography.