NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer has returned to port after a successful mission mapping in the Johnston Atoll region – part of the recently expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. During the expedition we mapped approximately 7,780 square nautical miles of seafloor area with the multibeam sonar, provided hands-on ocean mapping experience to four Explorers-in-Training students and one NOAA Educational Partnership Program student, and collected valuable data for NASA about aerosols in the atmosphere.
Highlights of this expedition included revealing many of the flat-topped seamounts and ridges submerged around Johnston Atoll (some of which were covered in dome-shaped features with typical heights of 100-300 meters), glimpsing the remote and beautiful Johnston Atoll itself, and mapping part of the massive Horizon Tablemount feature and an interesting seafloor fracture zone between Johnston and Oahu.
On July 31st we start the first of three remotely operated vehicle (ROV) cruises which will explore the seafloor habitats in and around Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and Johnston Atoll. Stay tuned as the Hohonu Moana expedition continues next week!