Introduction to the Biology and Geology of Loihi Seamount
Loihi Seamount with a summit depth at ~1000 m below the sea surface is a seismically active submarine volcano, representing a yet to emerge Hawaiian island. Although not volcanically active at this moment, Loihi is characterized by active hydrothermal venting that supports a microbial food web dependent on the oxidation of Fe, which is available and plentiful in the basalts of the volcanic substrate.

Hawaiian Islands [source: SOEST]
The Loihi Seamount (summit at ~1000 m below surface) is a seismically active submarine volcano that represents an emerging Hawaiian island. Following several studies in the late 1980's that predicted hydrothermal venting based on enrichments of various gases and metals in the water column over Loihi, two hydrothermal fields were discovered by Dave Karl and colleagues.

Loihi bathymetry [credit: Brad Bailey]

Since these hydrothermal fields were discovered, it has been recognized that the geochemistry and biology of Loihi render this system distinct among known deep-sea hydrothermal environments.

For example, the vent fluids at Loihi are highly enriched in iron and carbon dioxide but are low in sulfide. Low oxygen and pH are important factors in supporting the high Fe concentrations, one of the hallmark geochemical features of Loihi. These chemical characteristics, manifested as gradients set up by venting fluids and weathering rocks make perfect environments for iron-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB) to thrive in.

Access to FeMO at Loihi Seamount is by ship-based submarines. Members of the FeMO team have previously visited Loihi on the R/V Ka`imikai-o-Kanaloa (KoK) using the University of Hawaii-operated manned submersible Pisces. In October/November 2006, 22 scientists took the first of three yearly cruises as part of FeMO aboard the R/V Melville and our eyes and hands at the seafloor belonged to Jason II, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

R/V Melville in 2006
Combined FeMO and SBN Workshop
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 25-26 May 2007

17 FeMO PI's, post-docs, students and a teacher convened at Scripps for a two day workshop to present science, plan outreach and prepare for our cruise in October.

Second FeMO Cruise Embarks
Loihi, 11-27 October 2007

Onboard the R/V Kilo Moana 20 scientists and 10 JASON technicians and pilots will carry out seven ROV dives on Loihi Seamount to study its microbial life. Follow them online ...

FeMO Research at the Fall AGU Meeting
San Francisco, 10-14 December 2007

A special Biogeosciences session entitled "Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry of Iron and Manganese" will be convened by two of our younger FeMO researchers. Don't miss out ...

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FeMO 2006
R/V Melville

FeMO 2007
R/V Kilo Moana

FeMO 2008
R/V Thompson

FeMO 2009
R/V Kilo Moana