The Targets: Loihi Crater, Mauna Kea
• Mauna Key is 4200-metre volcano on Hawaii; when measured from its base on the ocean floor, it’s more than 10000 metres high, or taller than Mount Everest from its base.
• Loihi is a submerged volcano 975 metres beneath the sea. Its hardening magma is creating what will one day be a new island in the Hawaiian isle.
• Dr. Ballard: Volcanoes like Loihi are the “Thunderhead of the Mantle”.
• Dr. Ballard starts from the summit of Mauna Kea at 4200 metres above sea level, and travels all the way down to Loihi on the ocean floor.
• This is a tour of a volcanoes whole life: from the summit, where it looks like Mars, to the Africa-like grasslands below, to thicker foliage and denser habitats where moisture in the atmosphere builds closer to sea level, and finally to the threshold of creation on the ocean floor.
• Fires of Creation is also the story of Hawaii, which was born one magma-seeping hot spot at a time. Lava hardened into great islands, just as it is doing at Loihi.
At the Dive Site:
• A navy sub would be crushed by water pressure 100 times that of surface.
• Ballard and team explore Pele’s Pit with two subs—a 600 metre-wide crater at top of Loihi. In total darkness, they must rely on sonar to navigate.
• They locate a hydrothermal vent, where bacteria grows and glows in the warmth of leaking heat. Ballard : “I’m convinced that this is where life began on our planet”.
• DeepCam: Ballard uses the National Geographic Deep-Cam to film depth that even Piesces subs cannot reach.
• Rarely seen life filmed: cusk eel, cutthroat eel, and a false catshark.