Expedition 336: Mid-Atlantic Ridge Microbiology

September 16, 2011 - November 17, 2011

Bridgetown, Barbados to Ponta Delgada, Azores

Co-Chief Scientist: Katrina J. Edwards (University of Southern California)

Co-Chief Scientist: Wolfgang Bach (University of Bremen)

Expedition Project Manager/Staff Scientist: Adam Klaus (IODP)

Education Officer: Jennifer Magnusson


Map this expedition >

Expedition Summary 

The top layer of the earth’s crust is full of cracks and fractures. Beneath the ocean, these networked cracks and fractures fill with water that flows through them as the ocean moves and changes. This type of watery network is called an aquifer, and the deep ocean crust contains the largest active aquifer on Earth. Living within this aquifer are all kinds of tiny lifeforms (microbes) that make their homes in this deep ocean landscape. But how many microbes are there? Are there different kinds? Where do they come from? How do they live, eat and move within this deepsea network? These are the questions that scientists onboard IODP Expedition 336: Mid-Atlantic Microbiology hope to answer. By installing three subseafloor observatories (“CORKs”) into the ocean crust, IODP scientists hope to gain new information that will help them understand what life is like below the ocean floor.

How can I get involved?

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JR facebook page


Classroom Connection

  • Follow along during the expedition by reading the expedition blog entries, written by scientists, educators and crew members. Learn about the science behind the expedition, as well as life at sea aboard the JR! You can also read co-chief scientist Katrina Edwards's blog, which is being featured in Scientific American's Expeditions.
  • Check out our facebook page and follow us on Twitter (@TheJR) for daily updates, including photos, videos, and classroom activities. You can also see weekly photos of our expedition in the IODP Friends & Family Gallery.
  • Join us for a LIVE videoconference! Take a tour of the ship and participate in a question and answer session with scientists and staff. At this time, we don't have any more conference spots available for this expedition, but you can sign up now to reserve your space for our next one: Expedition 339: Mediterranean Outflow!
  • Adopt a microbe and join us for a weekly activity, both science and art based. Visit the Adopt-a-Microbe website for more information. You can also read the Letters from the Giant Microbes blog.
  • Classroom Connection is designed to spark interest and enthusiasm for learning in the special education classrooms by engaging in ship-to-shore interactions between students and the scientists and drillers on board the JR. (Please note, Internet Explorer users may be redirected to a remote site for certain content.)

Where can I learn more?

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CORK Video

OsmoSampler Video

Ask a Scientist

Here are some resources to help you learn more about the science and mission of our expedition:

  • Read this blog post by Katrina Edwards for an introduction to our expedition and an explanation of the fundamental questions we're trying to answer.
  • Watch this animation that describes what a CORK subseafloor observatory is
  • Watch this video to learn what an osmosampler is and why we are putting them down below the seafloor, or this one to learn more about CORKs
  • Ask a Scientist if you have a question about our research or want to learn more about what it's like to be a scientist on this expedition

Expedition Videos

Deep-Sea Microbes in the News 

expedition 336 science party

Who's Onboard?

Science on the research drilling ship JOIDES Resolution is an international effort. This map shows where each of the members of the Expedition 336: Mid-Atlantic Ridge Microbiology science party is from. Click on a placemark to find out who is from each location.


Transit to Site 395A, 20 Sep 2011
United States
22° 45' 18" N, 46° 5' 17.9988" W