Saturday, January 20, 2018
 
What’s in a name?
/ Categories: Feature, Education, Exploration

What’s in a name?

by Fred Gorell, Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Can a high school intern explore the ocean floor without being at sea? That's what Daniela Vitarelli recently did with NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research(OER) when her interest in geology and physics were matched with OER's mission to better understand our largely unknown ocean.

High school intern Daniela Vitarelli

High school intern Daniela Vitarelli

Daniela begins undergraduate studies this fall at Fort Lewis College, in Durango, CO, in the fields of geology, physics and chemistry. She says her interest in studying those disciplines was reaffirmed - and expanded - by her experience at OER (Credit: Christine Clark)

From shore, she learned about ocean mapping in live video connections with the mapping team on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer at sea. And from OER partners at the NOAA Central Library in Silver Spring, Md., and NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Newport Ore., she learned the process for naming undersea features and how to determine which may already be officially named. Daniela also studied ocean charts and online gazetteers as she researched a number of undersea features discovered by NOAA.

What’s in a name? It’s important to have an official naming policy to have the greatest possible conformity in nautical charts and documents. At the end of her month-long internship, she recommended OER submit to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names Advisory Committee on Undersea Features, a proposal to officially name several potentially unnamed discoveries. These included a volcano rising 1,200 meters from the seafloor to its summit 2,200 meters below the surface on a ridge in the Pacific Ocean off Mendocino, Cal. Daniela's recommendations, including naming the volcano Okeanos Explorer, are now under OER review.

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