Daily Update: New hydrothermal vent field discovered
23 deg 52.7S
Longitude: 69 deg 35.7E
Wind Direction: SE
Wind Speed: 15 Knots
Sea State 4
Swell(s) Height: 5 Foot
Sea Temperature: 78°F (25.9°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1015.6 MB
Visibility: 15+ Nautical Miles
By Amy Nevala
the Organ-Pipe and Boomer are some of the nicknames excited
scientists on Knorr are already giving to the newly-discovered
black smoker chimneys.
Just before 2300 hours last night, ROV Jason climbed
the steep, lower eastern wall of the Central Indian Ridge rift
valley. Near 23° 52S we saw
on Jasons remote video cameras the source of the hydrothermal plume that
we mapped just a few days ago. (click
here for 3-D map).
new hydrothermal vent field is only the second active vent site
identified in the Indian Ocean. Last fall a Japanese team discovered
the Kairei Vent Field south of here.
Congratulations! Good work, everyone! cheered the group of scientists
and DSOG team members in the control van. We backslapped Chemists Marvin Lilley,
Bob Collier and Darryl Green, the three Plume Team members whose methodical Tow-yo
surveys provided critical clues to the vents seafloor location.
Tonight ROV Jason continues to survey the site, map
the chimneys and identify the different animal communities.
Some features of this football-field sized site are
similar to the Kairei Vent Field. Hundreds and thousands of the
husky Rimicaris shrimp crowd the black smoker chimneys as they
forage. Delicate white anemones litter the vent bases.
There are also important differences. Here we see
more eel pouts, a type of ghostly-looking white fish. Yellow, orange
and white bacterial mats drape the site like floor rugs. We did
not see these mats at the Kairei Field. They are the product of
lower temperature hydrothermal venting and an active bacterial
community, elements absent from the Kairei Vent Field.
also had clear views today of gushing black smokers, white smokers and milder
diffuse flows seeping out of ochre, yellow and white vent mounds. These flows
contributed to the particles and temperature variations we saw in the bottom
water as we towed our CTD sensor. (click
here to see plots of the plume data)
ROV Jason will spend another night exploring the
site before we recover and reconfigure the vehicle for detailed
seafloor sampling. The elevator, loaded with sampling equipment,
will join Jason on the seafloor tomorrow afternoon.
Tonight, we celebrated the discovery with a cook-out
on Knorrs starboard
side. Steward Mirth Miller, Cook Chris Poulin and Mess Attendant Geryk
Paige prepared a grilled feast that included ribs, fish, baked
beans and gooey brownies.
Along with the excellent food, Knorrs crew,
the DSOG team and scientists savored the knowledge of a job well-done,
as well as the thought of discoveries ahead at the new site.
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