Sunday, November 27, 2011

Have you heard about hydrothermal vents?

Research on seamounts will pause as another science project will divert our expedition cruise for the next 3 days. It will focus on hydrothermal vents.

Hydrothermal vents are another special feature of the deep-ocean. They mostly occur on mid-ocean ridges (long, narrow, natural elevations on the floor of the ocean where oceanic crust is formed). The one Leigh and Jon are going to explore - and sample for the very first time - is located on the Southwest Indian Ocean Ridge at 2800m depth.

Chimneys, formed on hydrothermal vent fields, release hot fluid filled with chemicals from the inside of the Earth. Hydrothermal vents support very specific fauna. Communities that developed in these very deep sea habitats use the chemical energy of the vent fluid to live and thrive.

The hydrothermal vent area will be investigated through several ROV dives in order to take HD images of the whole structure and characterize the composition of the vent fauna.

An additional blog is in place for this other research project for the next few days; you will find more info about what is going on on board the RRS James Cook regarding hydrothermal vents here:

ROV screens during the first dive on the vent field

Hydrothermal vent; ROV images