Twelve days after Christmas, and here we are, still at sea! The circumstances have changed, though. Our last sampling efforts wrapped up just in time for the turning of calendars. The final HOV Alvin dive of the decade, number 5050, surfaced to many smiles and samples just before our last feast of 2019 (in case you’re wondering: yes, the cooks are still magicians).
Hydrothermal vent environments are oases of life in the deep sea. Tube worms, mussels, and other fascinating animals thrive in the warm to super-hot, mineral-rich fluids escaping from cracks in the seafloor and vent chimneys.
Lauren Mullineaux, a biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and her lab group joined expedition Hot2Cold Vents to see what changes in vent species had occurred at 9°50’ North on the East Pacific Rise in recent years.
When cruising for pleasure, packing the most stylish outfits within the dress code of each activity is key to getting the most of the experience. When cruising for scientific research, the same applies. As this type of cruising involves more varied activities than the average day in the lab or office, knowing what to pack can be daunting. To help, here are some tips on the latest trends for science cruising with R/V Atlantis this winter, so researchers can be sure to look their best no matter what.
Happy New Year from expedition Hot2Cold Vents! Sentry dressed for the new decade with help from mechanical engineer Manyu Belani. The robot, shown here slightly before deployment on December 31, spent the last hours of 2019 and the first of 2020 mapping the seafloor along 9°50 North during its last dive of our expedition.
“We’re not back out here, we are seemingly always out here.”
This isn’t true. But by time this expedition ends, a group of participating researchers will have enjoyed nearly two months of 2019 sailing to, from, and along 9°50’ North on the East Pacific Rise. Among them is Jason Sylvan, a Texas A&M University microbiologist, expedition chief scientist, and speaker of that quote.
A group of expedition scientists is collecting data that will provide insight into how volcanoes behave and alter the seafloor — and possibly when the next eruption along this mid-ocean ridge in the eastern Pacific Ocean might occur.
Merry Christmas to those who celebrate from all of us on expedition Hot2Cold Vents! Our version of a Christmas tree is 2,500 meters below us: Riftia Mound, a sulfide chimney venting lower temperature fluid around 68°F (20°C). With help from Alvin, expedition scientists decorated it with two types of experiments related to how organisms colonize vents. One type is related to a long-term study by WHOI’s Mullineaux Lab on how communities of vent organisms change over time. The second type is part of Shawn Arellano’s research on how larvae in the deep sea determine where to settle down.
I’m a soil scientist and biogeochemist from Minnesota, and it’s pretty hard to get further from an ocean than Minnesota. Let’s be clear: I’m not an oceanographer. I’ve hardly ever even been on a boat bigger than a canoe.
A gift from Hot2Cold Vents to you: We’re sharing more about our expedition through deep-sea science photos posted on the American Geophysical Union’s Instagram account from today through December 26. We’ll take over the account again on December 30 and 31 so you can see out the decade with even more seafloor science.