Hydrothermal tomography

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Crossing hydrothermal.png
Group Name Hydrothermal Tomography
Duration Fall 2018 - Spring 2019
Faculty Adviser Eric Mittelstaedt
Mentor Jacob Miller
  • University of Idaho Geology Department
Team Members
  • Brady Hislop
  • Kiana Pitman
  • Colton Artis

Determining Mid-Ocean Ridge Vent Temperature

Problem Definition[edit]

Mid-Ocean spreading ridges have hydro-thermal vents which produce two types of heated plumes. The first is a dark plume which cannot be effectively measured by our method due to an abundance of material in the plume. The second type which we will be analyzing is a clear plume which produces heated water vents with little to no material in the plume and can be measured using acoustic vibration across a 1X1 meter distance.


Little is able to measured about mid-ocean ridge vents. The sub-surface temperature changes can effect a variety of things at depth and have not been able to be effectively measured yet. This project will give an idea of sub-surface conditions through measuring the temperature at mid-ocean spreading ridge vents.

As the mid-ocean ridge vent spreads heated water pockets find ways to the surface and generate an abundance of heat for a variety of life to exist. As the sub-surface processes change over time conditions for life change. This temperature and sub-surface process relationship is dynamic and what this project intends to study.

This project has been worked on in the past by Brady Hislop and he is now the team leader for the U of I senior capstone project. The frame that had been working on is show below.

Current Testing Frame

This frame has been used along with 3D printed parts to align and test transducers for send/receive (TX/RX) functionality. With enough RX/TX transducers an accurate mapping of the the temperature of the mid-ocean spreading ridge thermal vents.


The goal is to deliver a working proof of concept of a system that is capable of generating a sub-surface pulse and receiving it on the opposing side of an array. This will result in a measurable time difference between the signal being generated and the signal received. Using this time difference the temperature of the mid-ocean ridge vents can be recorded over time.

For the proof of concept phase this will not be submerged more than several meters in a controlled environment. Using a heated water pumping source and a water tank measurements will be taken to determine if the delivered system is able to preform as expected.


Using a ~1 m2 area extruded aluminum frame as a rigid base a number of sending/receiving immersion transducers will be placed around the frame in order to gather temperature data via timestamps of sending/receiving times. The project will need to capture data and store it rapidly (1Hz) in a 2D plane. A total of 4-8 immersion traducers will be fired in groups of 2 and received by 16 transducers with the data being logged for later analysis.

Design Considerations[edit]

This project is focused on proving the concept that sending and receiving signals from transducers can be used to determine the temperature of hydrothermal vents near mid-ocean ridges. For this design project we will focus on creating a system that can work in a pool under controlled conditions. Additionally, considerations will be made for the frequency of the transducers, the speed at which signals can be sent and received and the rigidness of the frame.

Project Learning[edit]

Transducer Beam widths: We learned that the theory on the transducer beam widths is close to experimental results that we obtained in the lab. This allowed us to have the goal of creating an array of transducers that could be receiving the signal from the corners of the frame.

Prototyping of Transducer Holders: Through the prototyping of parts, we learned a few important things. The first thing that we learned was that Plastic seems to be more difficult to machine then aluminum so early next week we plan on attempting to machine a piece of aluminum to determine if this makes the machining of the holders quicker next semester. We also learned that there is a need to better our design to ensure that the alignment of the transducers is within the wanted threshold.

Sound Propagation: When pulsing transducers in a holder the sound often times propagates through the frame creating unwanted signals in the receiving transducer. We learned that in order to avoid this from happening a rubber gasket is needed to ensure that the wave does not propagate through the frame. Further learning will provide us with the knowledge to understand if we will be able to solve the problem of the propagation of sound with a rubber gasket of if something more needs to be done.

Acoustic Sound Speeds: We learned about how the speed of sound varies with the temperature of the water and how this will affect how we design the system. We learned that with an increase in temperature from around 0 degrees Celsius to roughly 65 degrees Celsius the speed of sound in water increases. We also learned that this will affect how we design the system and how accurate we must make the system in order to avoid large errors in the system.

Final Design[edit]


Team Members[edit]

[[File: |thumb|left]]

Responsibility:'EE Leader and Designer'

Brady Hislop

Responsibility:'ME Design'

[[File: |thumb|left]]

Responsibility:'ME Design'

Additional Documentation[edit]

Project Schedule

File:Updatable Schedule - Schedule.pdf
File:Project Completion Hydrothermal.pdf

Meeting Minutes

File:Compliation of Meeting Minutes Hydrothermal.pdf


File:Design Review Hydrothermal.pdf

Client Interview