In 2005 we had the extraordinary opportunity to sail aboard the University of Washington’s R/V Thompson for a 30-day cruise in the Aleutians.  The objective of the cruise, which became known as the Western Aleutian Volcano Expedition (WAVE), was to map the locations of volcanoes on the Aleutian sea floor and to collect volcanic rock samples (by dredging) for geochemical studies. 

Mapping and dredging operations on the WAVE began just west of Attu Island (Fig. 1) on July 22nd, and continued eastward to Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island without any weather-related or other significant technical delays. The last of 89 dredges was recovered just outside Dutch Harbor on August 21st. More than 19,000 km2 of seafloor were mapped, and >4000 kg of volcanic rock were recovered in 73 successful dredges from approximately 1650 km of arc length. Dredged materials, recovered from water depths of 300-2200 m, were sorted on the ship, and  representative volcanic rock samples were numbered individually, cut for thin sectioning, photographed and described. Subsets of these samples are the subjects of ongoing geochemical studies.

Aleutian Sea Floor Volcanism

The Western Aleutian Volcano Expedition (the WAVE)