High-resolution Photo-mosaicing of the Rosebud Hydrothermal Vent Site and Surrounding Lava Flows, Galapagos Rift 86W: Techniques and Interpretation


The Rosebud hydrothermal vent field was discovered in May 2002 in the Galapagos Rift near 86W during a series of Alvin dives and ABE autonomous vehicle surveys. Vertical-incidence digital imaging using a 3.1 Mpixel digital camera and strobe illumination from altitudes of 3-5m was carried out during the Alvin dives. A complete survey of the Rosebud vent site was carried out on Alvin Dive 3790. Submersible position was determined by post-cruise integration of 1.2 MHz bottom-lock Doppler sonar velocity data logged at 5Hz, integrated with heading and attitude data from a north-seeking fiber-optic gyroscope logged at 10Hz, and initialized with a surveyed-in long-baseline transponder navigation system providing geodetic position fixes at 15s intervals. The photo-mosaicing process consisted of three main stages: pre-processing, pair-wise image co-registration, and global alignment. Excellent image quality allowed us to avoid lens distortion correction, so images only underwent histogram equalization. Pair-wise co-registration of sequential frames was done partially automatically (where overlap exceeded 70 percent we employed a frequency-domain based technique), and partially manually (when overlap did not exceed 15 percent and manual feature extraction was the only way to find transformations relating the frames). Partial mosaics allowed us to determine which non-sequential frames had substantial overlap, and the corresponding transformations were found via feature extraction. Global alignment of the images consisted of construction of a sparse, nonlinear over-constrained system of equations reflecting positions of the frames in real-world coordinates. This system was solved using least squares, and the solution provided globally optimal positions of the frames in the overall mosaic. Over 700 images were mosaiced resulting in resolution of ~3 mm per pixel. The mosaiced area covers approximately 50 m x 60 m and clearly shows several biological zonations and distribution of lava flow morphologies, including what is interpreted as the contact between older lobate lava and the young sheet flow that hosts Rosebud vent communities. Recruitment of tubeworms, mussels, and clams is actively occurring at more than five locations oriented on a NE-SW trend where vent emissions occur through small cracks in the sheet flow. Large-scale views of seafloor hydrothermal vent sites, such as the one produced for Rosebud, are critical to properly understanding spatial relationships between hydrothermal biological communities, sites of focused and diffuse fluid flow, and the complex array of volcanic and tectonic features at mid-ocean ridge crests. These high-resolution perspectives are also critical to time-series studies where quantitative documentation of changes can be related to variations in hydrothermal, magmatic and tectonic processes.

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

EOS Transactions, American Geophysical Union


84, Number 46

Conference Date

Dec 8 - Dec 12, 2003

Publisher Place

San Francisco, CA, USA


American Geophysical Union Publications

Document Type

Conference Proceeding