It is now down to the summit. Marine scientists are planning to build an observatory at the tip of a massive underwater volcano. Recently, scientists from the University of Washington boarded a research vessel bound for the Axial volcano, 400 km off the Oregon coast. Once there, they hope to complete the second phase of the year-old US-Canadian observatory project, which plans to assemble instruments focussed on the geology and biology of the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Last year researchers installed the first instruments which included water chemistry and earthquake monitors at the New Millennium Observatory, which sits more than 1,000 meters above the sea floor and 1400 metres under the surface ( Science , Vol 284, No 5422).
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