Oceanographer Edward Baker to Describe
Seafloor’s ‘Unseen Volcanoes’ in UTD Talk

Planet’s ‘Most Active Volcanic Landscape’ Focus of Researcher’s Lecture

RICHARDSON, Texas (March 28, 2005) – Noted oceanographer Dr. Edward T. Baker will describe what he says is the most active volcanic landscape on the planet – located on the floor of the world’s oceans – in a lecture on Thursday, April 14, at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).

Baker, a supervisory oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will present his talk, titled “Unseen Volcanoes: New Perspectives in Ocean Exploration,” at 7 p.m. in Karl Hoblitzelle Hall, Room 2.402. The lecture is free and open to the public. The following day, Baker will make a technical presentation on seafloor hydrothermal fields to students, faculty and staff of the university’s Geosciences Department.

Photo, Edward Baker
Oceanographer Edward T. Baker

“UTD is pleased to bring a scientist of Dr. Baker’s standing to the Dallas- Fort Worth area, where the non-scientific public will have an opportunity to hear his expert observations,” said Dr. Robert J. Stern, head of UTD’s Geosciences Department. “The seafloor is the last area of true discovery on this planet and Dr. Baker is one of the foremost explorers of this fascinating realm.”

Although not readily visible to anyone but a handful of marine researchers, the world’s ocean basins are described by Baker as a dynamic environment, where seafloor is ceaselessly created by lava eruptions along the Mid-Ocean Ridge (“a 40,000-mile-long volcano that snakes through all of the oceans”) and consumed where tectonic plates collide and one sinks beneath another.

“The ocean floor is the most active volcanic environment on the planet,” Baker said.

Much of what science knows about this mysterious realm has come to light only in the last few decades.

“Just 25 years ago, the discovery of hydrothermal vents by the submersible Alvin revealed that these seafloor volcanoes could harbor sanctuaries of warmth and life in the unyielding cold of the deep sea,” Baker said. “Several recent expeditions to unexplored volcanoes along the boundaries of the Pacific Basin have mapped previously unknown hydrothermal vent fields.”

An environment that had been remote and largely unobservable is now beginning to be revealed not just to researchers on-site, but to others as well, thanks to “new visualization tools that can virtually transport a wide scientific and public audience to this unseen volcanic landscape,” Baker said.

Baker works at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, where he specializes in studies of active seafloor hydrothermal systems and their effects on the deep ocean. He is also an affiliate professor of oceanography at the University of Washington (UW) and a senior fellow at the NOAA-UW Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean.

Baker’s research focuses on the creation and evolution of vent fields created by seafloor eruptions, and the global pattern of vent field distribution along ridges and island arcs.

Baker has participated in more than 70 research cruises, including 25 where he served as chief scientist. He helped develop NOAA’s hydrothermal research program, known as Vents, in 1984.

He earned a B.S. degree in geology from the University of Notre Dame and an M.S. degree and a Ph.D. degree, both in oceanography, from the University of Washington.

For additional information about Baker’s presentation, please call UTD’s Geosciences Department at 972-883-2401.

About UTD

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.