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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Lisa Cugini, (401) 874-6642

Graduate School of Oceanography scientists
to study Caribbean submarine volcano Kick ‘Em Jenny

SeaBeam image of Kick 'em Jenny from measurements taken from the NOAA Research Vessel Ronald H. Brown 03122002.
Narragansett, RI -- February 28, 2003 -- URI Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) marine geologists Haraldur Sigurdsson and Steve Carey have received a $283,000 grant from NOAA's Ocean Exploration Program to carry out an interdisciplinary study of the active submarine volcano Kick 'em Jenny in the southern Lesser Antilles, Caribbean Sea.

The research is a collaborative project with Dr. John Shepherd of the Seismic Research Unit of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Dr. Doug Wilson of the NOAA/OAR lab in Annapolis, MD.

Kick'em Jenny is one of the most active volcanoes in the Caribbean and is currently only 190 meters below the surface. It last erupted in December 2001. Numerous historical eruptions, mostly documented by acoustic signals, have occurred since first documented in 1939, when an eruption cloud rose 900 feet above the sea surface. Other known eruptions occurred in 1943, 1953, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1974, 1977, 1988 and 1990. The eruptions of 1939 and 1974 ejected eruption columns above the sea surface.

Kick 'em Jenny, like many other submarine volcanoes is a particularly efficient generator of acoustic signals which are transmitted through the ocean. These can be heard underwater (and on land close to the volcano) as a deep rumbling noise but more importantly they are recorded by seismograph stations. On several occasions they have been felt, strongly in northern Grenada and the Grenadines and perceptibly as far away as Martinique.

A two-week research cruise aboard the NOAA vessel R/V Ronald H. Brown will take place from March 10-23. The far-ranging study will include SEABEAM mapping, ROV exploration and sampling of the submarine cone, seismic surveying, sediment coring, biological studies and sampling.

"We now have a unique opportunity to get into the crater of this active volcano, without risking our lives," said Sigurdsson. "The last time I visited Kick'em Jenny was in a submersible or a small submarine in 1989, and we had equipment failure right on the volcano at 700 feet depth. I will be looking forward to examining the volcano up close and personal this time, but without risking my life!"

GSO marine biologists David Smith and Karen Wishner will be examining microbiological and macrobiological communities in the crater area of the volcano. Kick'em Jenny is known to produce huge bacterial blooms following an eruption, and the expedition will examine the way in which the volcanic activity stimulates subsequent biological activity in and around the crater.

Also participating in the cruise are GSO graduate students Dwight Coleman, Scott Lundin and Andrew Staroscik. URI's oceanographers have followed the growth and evolution of this very active volcano since 1972, but have never before been equipped with the array of instrumentation at their disposal on this cruise.

The URI Graduate School of Oceanography is one of the country's largest marine science education programs, and one of the world's foremost marine research institutions. Founded in 1961 in Narragansett, RI, GSO serves a community of scientists who are researching the causes of and solutions to such problems as acid rain, harmful algal blooms, global warming, air and water pollution, oil spills, overfishing, and coastal erosion. GSO is home to the Coastal Institute, the Coastal Resources Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, the Institute for Archaeological Oceanography, and the National Sea Grant Library.

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