Press Office


All at sea for Christmas


Newcastle University scientist Susan Gebbels today sets sail to the centre of the Pacific Ocean as part of a new expedition to uncover one of the earth’s deepest secrets.

She is part of a two-month scientific mission to the Hess Deep Rift – a fast-spreading mid ocean ridge formed when magma spills up through the crust and rapidly cools.

This will be the first time the magmatic rocks of the lower crust in the Pacific Ocean have been sampled and the team hope this mission will help them to understand the chemical processes occurring between the crust and seawater.

Based on the scientific research vessel the Joides Resolution, Susan has been appointed as the expedition’s education officer and it will be her job to disseminate the findings of the trip to school children around the world.

“The aim is to find out more about what happens when cracks open up on the ocean floor and new seabeds are created,” explains Susan, who is based at Newcastle University’s Dove Marine Laboratory.

“The team will be sampling for the first time the lower crust at Hess Deep in an effort to understand the geochemical processes and it will be my job to communicate what we find down there.”

Schools across the world – including several from the North East – are already signed up to the live Skype tutorials which Susan will be running during January and February.  She will also be compiling educational materials which will be available to schools next year.

“The aim of the live tutorials is to give students an idea of what it’s like to be a scientist on a research vessel,” explains Susan.

“So as well as telling them about any exciting discoveries we’ve made we’ll also be able to give them a tour of the ship and introduce them to key crew members.  It’s a really exciting opportunity.”

More information about the expedition, live blogs and twitter feeds can be found at

published on: 17 December 2012