National Science Foundation research vessel the Marcus G Langseth docked safely at Seattle on July 11 after 41 days at sea. A team led by scientists Suzanne Carbotte, Shuoshuo Han, and Brian Boston set sail from Newport, Oregon in order to map the Cascadia Subduction Zone, an area where the Juan de Fuca plate is sliding underneath the North American plate.
This survey, funded by the NSF, is the first seismic imaging study done on the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Using the data gathered, scientists will have a better idea of what shape the fault line is. Being able to see where smaller cracks lie on the fault will help predict what sort of earthquake will result when the plates’ tension is released. This information will also allow more accurate prediction of seismic events and the consequent tsunami risks.
To minimize the potential impact this survey had on the environment, they had five protected species observers on board who kept watch for sea life. According to Boston, the scientists only had to halt their experiments a few times, usually for humpback whales.