JC36: Geology & biology of the Whittard Canyon


Meet the team

Doug Masson

Doug is a marine geologist at NOCS and has particular interest in submarine canyons and geohazards. This is the second time he's visited the Whittard Canyon - the first time was during Leg 3 of the JC10 cruise.

Veerle Huvenne

Veerle is a scientist at NOCS, working on submariner canyons, deep-water corals and their sedimentary environment. She will be interested in any corals we find in the canyon - which sedimentary regime they live in and what sort of reef structures they build. Veerle is also interested in the overall process of downslope sediment transport and canyon formation and in the associated bedforms on the canyon floor.

Paul Tyler

Paul Tyler is a Professor of deep sea biology at the University of Southampton, and his interests lie in all aspects of the deep-sea environment including margins, canyons, abyssal plains, corals, seeps and vents. During the cruise, he and the other biologists on board will be involved in searching for, sampling and identifying the creatures that live in the Whittard Canyon.

Veit Hühnerbach

Veit is a specialist in seafloor imaging, and he has lots of experience of working at sea. Veit will be involved with the surveying and data logging activities on this cruise.

Colin Jacobs

Colin is a marine geologist at NOCS who has participated in many research cruises, mostly looking at the interactions of active geological processes (such as benthic currents and slope stability) and and how these affect seafloor habitats.

Jess Trofimovs

Jess is a marine geologist and volcanologist at NOCS. Jess specialises in submarine flow processes. During the cruise Jess will look at sea floor sediment samples to determine the flow processes occurring within the canyon.

Lucy Porritt

Lucy is a geologist and volcanologist and will be working  with the sea floor sediment cores on the cruise. She is interested in learning about the sedimentological processes occurring in the canyon and the animals that live in the deep ocean. She also has experience in seafloor mapping and will be helping with the GIS data interpretation and management.

Teresa Amaro

Teresa's main interest is looking at the feeding strategies of deep-sea holothurians (sea cucmbers) in deep-sea canyons. She is particularly intersted in finding out what they eat, and how the bacteria in their gut help them to break down their food.

Henry Ruhl

Researching the links between climate variation and deep-sea ecology has been a primary focus of interest for Henry. Deep-sea life is not only fascinating, but it influences the fate of carbon in the deep ocean. In particular he’s interested in understanding how changes in climate are related to the role of the deep-ocean as a carbon sink.  Most of Henrys work has focused on the relatively flat abyssal plains. But areas like the Whittard Canyon provide large environmental gradients within which to measure links between food supply and community structure, for example. In addition to measuring variation, our group is also conducting some experiments to help understand respiration of small sediment fauna like annelid worms and the large megafauna such as sea cumbers. While Hunter and Jamieson are focusing on the smaller fauna respiration, Ross, and Rhul are measuring respiration rates of the larger sea cumbers using specialized chambers deployed at the abyssal seabed in the canyon. By measuring respiration they hope to learn how much of the food reaching the seabed is utilized by these animals.

Andy Gooday

Andy Gooday is a deep sea biologist with broad interests in the biodiversity of modern small shelled protozoans (single cells) living on the seafloor, such as foraminifera. He is also interested in xenophyophores - giant protozoans that can grow to sizes in excess of 20 cm. He studies their biogeographic distributions in all oceans. He is interested in their ecology, particularly their relation to food inputs to the seafloor, as well as their use for reconstructing ancient oceans.

Libby Ross

Libby is a PhD student at NOCS. She is interested in the factors controlling the biogeography of megafauna in the deep sea, especially the interconnectivity of abyssal populations of holothurians (sea cucumbers).

Sven Thatje

Sven is an evolutionary ecologist interested in understanding better how life copes with extreme environmental conditions such as hyperbaric pressure and/or low (polar) temperatures. Sven is working at the School of Ocean and Earth Science at NOCS. He is a keen sportsman with a passion for rowing and road cycling.

Chris Hauton

Chris is an ecophysiologist with interests in how organisms adapt to their environment. He uses molecular techniques to explore the physiology of marine invertebrates and also to understand the genetic links between geographically distant populations of seabed species. Chris also works at the NOCS and when not in the lab spends most of his time either on the water or under it, scuba diving – either that or sleeping!

Nathan Robinson

Nathan is a prospective PhD student for the NOC and will be investigating the adaptations required by organisms to survive in deep ocean environments. Nathan will also be attempting to uncover the genetic links between deep and shallow water crustaceans. During this cruise Nathan will be attempting to understand why he is starting to follow a career in academia...

Natalie Hall

Natalie is a data scientist at NOCS and works with the British Oceanographic Data Centre. Natalie is in charge of Data Management on the cruise.

Brigitte Crowe

Brigitte is an Earth Science Student at University College Cork.  She is currently working on her Honours Dissertation in order to complete her BSc.  She is analyzing ROV video footage as well as push cores to determine the sedimentary processes occurring within the canyon system.  Although she hails from Texas, she is currently acting as the Irish Observer onboard RRS James Cook. 

Jens Holtvoeth

Jens is working in the Biogeochemistry Group at Liverpool University where he investigates the composition of organic matter in sediments and sea water. During JC36 he deploys a Stand Alone Pump System (SAPS) filtering sea water close to the ocean floor to analyze the organic matter arriving at depth, i.e. the ultimate food source for all creatures living there. Comparison with tissue samples, e.g., of holothurians (see Teresa Amaro) will help identifying nutritional needs and uptake mechanisms (you are what you eat). 

Will Hunter

Will is a PhD student at Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen.  He is interested in how differences in the environment, across continental margins, affect ecosystem scale responses to food input at the sea floor. The studies this by generating artificially food rich conditions at the sea floor, observing both how ecosystem oxygen consumption changes and which organisms eat most when they get a free lunch. He is a keen diver and tortoise enthusiast.

Alan Jamieson

Alan is an engineer at Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen, who is reluctantly on board to provide Will Hunter technical support.  He will be in charge of operating the AROBICs and TOCS experiments although he still doesn’t know what the acronyms stand for.

Mike Tangherlini

Michael started working on crabs and ended up on viruses while looking for a job. He currently works at the Polytechnic University of Marche, Italy, under supervision of Professor Roberto Danovaro, to count viruses in sediments and water. He`s on board to help Teresa Amaro with her experiments on enzymatic activities and heterotrophic production in deep-sea sediments.