March 10 – University of the Virgin Islands marine science students and faculty are off on another deep-sea research adventure this week.
On Saturday, the 10-member team joined an expedition on board the Ronald H. Brown, the newest and largest research vessel in the fleet of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. The ship is named after former U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, who served in the Clinton administration and was killed during a fact-finding trip over Bosnia in 1995.
This week, the ship makes its first Caribbean voyage as part of the ongoing Anegada Climactic Tracers Study, which involves tracking and measuring currents.
ACTS was originated in 1995 and is managed by UVI professor Roy Watlington. He said the St. Thomas team flew to Barbados to meet the Ronald H. Brown there. The vessel will be traveling from there to Trinidad and Tobago and then will head northward. It is expected to dock at Crown Bay on or about March 17 before changing crews and then heading on to monitor the waters near Puerto Rico.
Researchers from the Planning and Natural Resources Department are scheduled to take part in that phase of the study.
"The thought that this important vessel will be visiting the Virgin Islands for the first time during the week of UVI's 40th anniversary is very exciting for us," said Watlington, who also is chancellor of the St. Thomas campus.
The research team is made up of UVI students and scientists who will take part in the continuing study of the ocean's role in regulating climate. Much of the study centers on the Anegada Passage, a deep-water channel between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
Scientists are especially interested in the passage because it reaches some of the greatest ocean depths in the world. Students taking part in the study are expected to collect water samples from 2.5 miles below the surface as part of the Windward Islands Monitoring Project. The work is being done under the supervision of NOAA chief scientist Douglas Wilson.
Scientists from the University of the West Indies also are expected to board the research vessel, to join in observations of the Kick 'em Jenny undersea volcano. "With concerns about explosive eruptions and destructive sea waves, the Caribbean community is very interested in knowing how the volcano's eruptions of Dec. 4-6 … have altered its structure," Watlington said in a press release issued at the start of the trip.
In addition to UVI, UWI and NOAA, schools and institutions collaborating on the ACTS project include the University of Miami, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts, H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in the British Virgin Islands, and the University of Puerto Rico.
For additional details about ACTS, visit UVI's Eastern Caribbean Center web site.


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