Interview with Huaiyang Zhou, Co-Chief Scientist

For Dr. Zhou, this research cruise is a great international effort to unravel secrets of Earth’s interior. Dr. Huaiyang Zhou is a professor in the school of Ocean and Earth Science, Tongji University in Shanghai, China. He feels lucky and greatly honored to be a geologist with the task of studying and understanding the Earth System as a career. Compared with other parts of the system, Earth’s interior and how it works are among the least well understood. Dr. Zhou’s group seeks to understand the origins of the mantle at the sea floor, improve our understanding of lower crust architecture, and learn more about hydrothermal circulation (How deep does it go? How does it work? What are the consequences of hydrothermal interaction with its environment? etc.).

Dr Huaiyang Zhou

Dr Huaiyang Zhou

The southwest Indian Ridge is one of the slowest active spreading ridges on Earth’s surface. In recent decades, it’s been noticed that there are mantle and lower crust rocks exposed on the seafloor. These rocks provide a window into the mysteries of the mantle. The Marion Rise area is one of the least studied places on Earth’s surface, perhaps because it is very difficult to study. It’s in a remote marine area with very rough seas, making it difficult for land-lubbers to explore. This international effort is a valuable way to get many different scientists to the site to collaborate. Dr. Zhou will also take part in the second leg of this project next year on the German R/V Sonne.

Extensive reading of the literature kept Dr. Zhou familiar with the studies of other scientists. Dr. Zhou was interested in Dr. Henry Dick’s work on slow spreading ridges, particularly the southwest Indian Ridge. Dr. Zhou had the opportunity to participate in a workshop at Woods Hole where he met Henry Dick for the first time. They found they had many interests in common and have worked closely together for about ten years now. Their on-going cooperation and collaboration brought them together on this cruise.

Dr. Zhou became an economic geologist by coincidence. He attended primary and middle school during the Chinese Cultural Revolution when learning resources were scarce. During his childhood, there was a shortage of reading materials. As a curious child, Dr. Zhou read every book he could get his hands on. He went through the usual education sequence and at the end wasn’t sure if he would be a farmer or a factory worker. Lucky for him, the national exam to enter university started the summer after he finished school and he was invited to attend courses to prepare for it. Two months later he took the exam and was among the 2% to pass it. His acceptance letter told him that he would study economic geology. That was the first time he ever heard the term and it took him awhile to get a picture in his mind of what it would mean to be an economic geologist. This turn of events has allowed Dr. Zhou to explore many interesting places around the world, both on land and in the ocean.

“It is my great pleasure to be a member and one of the co-Chief Scientists of the International scientist team for the Cruise TN365. Our cruise has just started to work in our targeted area, everybody on board is excited and looks forward to the discoveries and surprises ahead.” – Dr. Zhou