UH students and scientists are headed to the Lo'ihi sea mounUPDATED 7:51 PM HST Jun 24, 2014Video Transcript
Doing what no other researchers have done before... A group of U-H students and scientists are headed into the deep.. They're going to the LO'ihi sea- mount -- the active underwater volcano off of the coast of the Big Island. KITV4's Brenton Awa has the story. ...it's all new tonight at 6. 10 23 file: scenic mountain trail Many of us are used to going to places like this. file: volcano erupting Taking in these sights. underwater broll but only a select few get to go here... Just off the eastern coast of the Big Island and about 1000-yards below the surface is Lo'ihi -- what's believed to become the next Hawaiian Island. It's where University of Hawaii researchers hope to explore depths here that no one has seen before. 138 "FOR ANYBODY WHO'S BEEN TO VOLCANOS NATIONAL PARK BEFORE, IT LOOKS LIKE THAT. THERE'S A LOT OF LAVA ROCK BUT IT'S ALL COVERED WITH RUST." This two-week journey took seven-years to get to this point. The main goal is focused on research -- and a whole lot of mapping. 120 "ON A GLOBAL SCALE, WE'VE MAPPED LESS THAN FIVE OR TEN PERCENT OF THE OCEAN FLOOR, WE JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT'S DOWN THERE, THAT'S ONE OF THE PRIMARY GOALS OF THIS EXPEDITION." Scientists believe they'll be able to map an area ten times larger than what's been logged so far. To do that -- it's bringing along this automated underwater robot. 319 "IT'S PRE-PROGRAMED TO GO OUT AND MOW THE LAWN. MAPPING AT 4K TO 5K METERS WHERE IT REALLY HAS BEEN UNEXPLORED BEFORE. IF WE'RE REALLY LUCKY WE'LL FIND EVIDENCE OF NEW VENTS THAT HAVEN'T BEEN DISCOVERED AT THOSE DEPTHS." Experts say Lo'ihi's summit looks like a volcano leaking iron -- and a lot of it's rusted over. They want to study that chemistry -- saying it's a pivotal part of this trip. 455 "IT'S KIND OF LIKE LOOKING AT THE GROUND FROM AN AIRPLANE VERSUS ACTUALLY WALKING ACROSS THE GROUND AND YOU GET A DIFFERENT SCALE OF RESOLUTION, YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THE TOPOGRAPHY LOOKS LIKE." The crew's ship's called the Falkor -- it's scheduled to leave Sand Island for Lo'ihi tomorrow morning. It's operated by the Schmidt ocean institute that isn't based in Hawaii but has been working with UH students on six projects so far this year. We're told the institute is currently creating what would be the only autonomous underwater vehicle to reach depth of 11- thousand meters. It hopes to launch that device in Hawaii next year.