|Water sampling bottles are |
lowered over the side of the ship.
The Von Damm plume is exciting and unusual because the fluid is rich in reduced gases but poor in metal-rich particles. Usually, hot hydrothermal vents emit particle-rich fluid (hence their name ‘black smokers’) but here the hot fluids are clear. Jeff directs delicate manoeuvres of the 5800 tonne ship so the water bottles, dangling two kilometres below us, stay in the plume while he snaps the bottle closed to capture the water.
These samples are key to our understanding of the dispersion and fate of the hydrothermal effluent in the deep ocean. Jeff and the team will be working on the samples for the next few years; analyzing a suite of elements and isotopes. These data will ultimately help us to understand how hydrothermal activity affects the highly sensitive ocean-climate system because these metals may fertilise life in the upper ocean.
By Rachel Mills
|Aly Lough sets up the water filtration rig in the clean van. Aly wears blue nitrile gloves to keep the rig clean, the van is positively pressurized to stop airbourne contaminants entering the lab.|