Technology Transfer News

a technician works with sensors on boat dock

NOAA technology used to research deep-sea volcanic and hydrothermal activity

As part of the ongoing Tonga Eruption Seabed Mapping Project, a team of scientists conducted a deep-water survey to better understand the impacts of the January 2022 Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption on the ocean environment. The research team used a technology developed by NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab (PMEL) to determine the level of ongoing volcanic and hydrothermal activity within the post-eruption caldera. The Miniature Autonomous Plume Recorder (MAPR) instruments made it possible for scientists to capture direct measurements of the water column up to 300 meters deep. This is the first time that such a survey has been conducted entirely remotely, using an uncrewed surface vessel that was operated and monitored by engineers and scientists located across the globe. Learn more about this PMEL mission and NOAA’s technological innovation effort.  A SeaKit engineer on the dock in Tonga mounting the PMEL MAPRs onto a specifically designed cage to fit on the USV Maxlimer. Photo Credit: Sea-Kit International/NIWA/Nippon Foundation

world map with locations highlighted across Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean

Eruption highlights how NOAA technological innovation powers public safety, economic development, and scientific discovery

When a volcano in the South Pacific Ocean erupted in January 2022, NOAA researchers were well-equipped to study the multi-hazard event by sky and by sea. Key technologies and strategic partnerships made it possible for NOAA to issue warnings that saved lives around the world, while also collecting scientific data that will improve forecasting models and disaster response for future events.