JC010: Mud volcanoes and submarine canyons


Cruise diary

Day 13: Thursday 24 May 2007
Position: Latitude 35º, Longitude 8º, Bearing 234º

Gill and Eduard write:

"Yesterday we explained how the seabed mapping is carried out using acoustic mapping. Today, within an hour of arriving at the next volcano, Carlos Riberio, the data had been collected and Andrey (one of the geologists on board) had processed this data to produce a stunning image of the volcano which you can see as a 3D image. From this the scientists could decide which part of the volcano to investigate in more detail. They can precisely locate the crater, the flanks and mud slides and aim the cores exactly. Ten years ago this would have been possible but it would have taken months. Now computer software is so powerful that it is all possible within an hour on board the ship. This is almost real time. A fantastic tool for exploration of the seabed at the cutting edge!

The Carlos Ribeiro mud volcano

Today Isis has gone down on its longest dive so far. It is descending to 2200m and we are all hoping that it will stay on the seabed for 40 hours. The aqualab is on board which as far as we know is the first deep-water deployment of this equipment. Its job is to sample the water column, and it is a groundbreaking piece of equipment. Designed to withstand extreme pressure, it has a rigid body made out of titanium and can go down to 6000m. It looks like a medusa with its long thin tubes connected to the ports. At the other end these are connected to blood bags originally developed for use in hospitals. These bags have had all the air removed to form a vacuum inside so there are no gases from the air to affect the sample. You can see this in the photograph. The machine is monitored from inside the Isis with live feedback, so the whole sampling process can be carefully controlled. Isis stops for 20 minutes, samples the water and then moves on to another sample point. There are 49 samples (600ml each) altogether so this is quite a time-consuming process. Doug Connelly, the scientist in control of this kit, explains in more detail exactly how the aqualab works in the short video clip. The samples are analysed for methane, hydrogen sulphide, alkalinity and ammonia on board, and then back in Southampton for nutrients and trace metals. The scientists are looking for signs that the mud volcano is active by comparing the water from the reference sites.

Doug Connelly explains how the aquamonitor works

Of course everyone wants to put their polystyrene cups on the Isis. Today was the turn of Alton Convent School in Hampshire ( Class 2J; Mrs Duffy )and The Downs School in Berkshire. We will show the results tomorrow.

Andrey - computing guru

Doug and Eduard at work in the lab

The aquamonitor, ready for action...

...in Isis!

Bluemouth fish and a sponge

An octopus

< Previous day | Next day >

Home -



Latest news

For teachers
Contact us

© NOCS 2007