Monday, June 15, 2009

A microbial home in 72 hours!.. Kilo Moana revisited

The ship departed ABE after a very successful ~30 hour Jason lowering and steamed north, back to Kilo Moana.  Our primary objective was to recover the array that had been deployed to study microbial colonization of sulfides.  The array was in position over an actively venting sulfide chimney and we were very excited to revisit the site and observe the newly precipitated mineral material.  In the three photos below, you can see the array at 2620m and the array in the lab after being brought back on board.

In addition to recovering the array, we sampled more sulfide chimneys, flanges and a "beehive".  "Beehives", or "diffusers," are highly porous, protuberant structures where vent fluid seeps through and flows out as cooler (less than 350˚ C) clear fluid.  Due to the fragile nature of these structures, "beehives" are very difficult to collect and present one of the numerous challenges in recovering deep-sea samples.  On this dive, Jason pilot and expedition leader, Phil Forte, skillfully used the arm of Jason to nudge the "beehive" into the scoop!