Daily Update: A weekend of discovery
23 deg 52.71S
Longitude: 69 deg 35.82E
Wind Direction: SE
Wind Speed: 10-12 Knots
Sea State 2-3
Swell(s) Height: 5-7 Foot
Sea Temperature: 78°F (25.9°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1013.6 MB
Visibility: 18+ Nautical Miles
swarming on a
By Amy Nevala
We have spent over 40 hours on the seafloor with ROV Jason mapping,
studying and exploring the newly-discovered Edmond hydrothermal
vent field since Friday. Its the longest stretch of
time ROV Jason has spent on the seafloor during this expedition.
the long hours scientists in the Control Van have observed many
differences in vent communities living at the Edmond and the
Kairei hydrothermal fields.
explain the biological differences between the fields, scientists
point to several possible factors. Several jogs in the path of
the Central Indian Ridge between Edmond and Kairei could limit
the migration of some vent animal larvae. Also, Edmond is 1,000
meters deeper than Kairei. The fluid chemistry and the ways the
fluids flow out of the seafloor are different. At Edmond, there
is much more diffuse flow but there are still many tall black
Consider the weird white fish biologist Shana Goffredi
saw tonight on Jasons
video cameras. These ghostly creatures that resemble swimming sport socks were
scarce at Kairei. Yet they lurk here by the dozens. Sea cucumbers, with their
translucent bodies, also are found at Edmond, but not Kairei. The same is true
for a brown tube-dwelling worm we found in the sediment.
But where are the hairy snails, those shelled beasts
so abundant at the Kairei site? Weve only seen three here, said Shana. And we dont
have nearly as many mussels as we did at the other site. Ditto for limpets,
a type of little mollusk with a pyramid-shaped shell.
We will spend our five remaining days uncovering
reasons for these differences between Kairei and Edmond. Some of
these questions may be answered here; others will be addressed
in our science labs once we take the samples home. And still others
will remain for future expeditions in the months and years to come.
Its a scenario Geologist Dan Fornari knows well. He has participated in
dozens of oceanographic expeditions and knows that sometimes, the last few days
of a research cruise can be the most important.
Sometimes you have to deal with the disappointment of not finishing your
work. Other times you find the key to unanswered questions just in the nick of
time, said Dan. Everyone is tired and wanting to be home, but part
of us also wants to stay.
Despite a month at sea of round-the-clock work, Dan
said there is never
enough time to do all the work out here, and always more data to collect that
will help answer our questions.
[Back to top]