Daily Updates: March
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Daily Updates: April 2001
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30          
Daily Updates: May 2001
    1 2 3 4 5

View Today's Slideshow!

sunny weather

78°F (25.6°C)
Latitude: 23 deg 52.7’S
Longitude: 69 deg 35.7’E
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

New Black Smoker

what's to eat today?
Daily Update: New hydrothermal vent field discovered
April 20, 2001
By Amy Nevala

Mammoth, 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° 52’S we saw on Jason’s remote video cameras the source of the hydrothermal plume that we mapped just a few days ago. (click here for 3-D map).

This 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.

We 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 Knorr’s 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, Knorr’s 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.


[Back to top]