Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Research Objectives

The two primary objectives of this research cruise are:

1.  To study the microbial ecology of actively venting sulfide deposits along the Eastern Lau Spreading Center.  This will include exploring the patterns of functional and phylogenetic diversity associated with sulfides, and culturing a range of different thermophiles, including thermoacidophiles.

2.  Investigate the temporal and spatial microbial colonization of sulfides.  This will involve deploying thermocouple arrays on hydrothermal vents, and collecting the fresh deposits at different periods of time for microbial characterization.

Invited ancillary project goals:

1.  Analysis of rising hydrothermal vent plumes, focusing on the process of particle formation, it's affect on seawater chemistry, and it's relationship to water-column microbial activity.

2.  A study of the physiology of vent organisms and their symbioses.  This will include measuring metabolic rates and conducting high pressure respirometry studies, thermal tolerance studies and chemical tolerance studies at in situ conditions.