Sunday 23rd January

Today's contributor: Jon Copley

This morning we moved the ship over towards the Antarctic Peninsula, to collect some cores of seafloor sediments away from possible vent sites. These "background" samples will allow us to compare what is happening at the vents with what goes on in the surrounding deep ocean.

For much of the day, we have been deploying the "megacorer". This sampling device drops from the ship on a wire and lands on the seafloor. There it gently pushes tubes into the seabed to collect samples of sediment. Trap-doors then seal the samples in the tubes while the device is hauled back aboard.

Bringing the megacorer back aboard

The megacorer can carry up to 12 sample tubes on each drop, allowing different members of our team to share samples. The geochemists are analysing the cores to see how oxygen and other environmental features vary with depth into the seabed. Meanwhile, members of the biology team have been sieving the sediments from the cores to see what lives in the seafloor.

Samples on deck

Back ashore, Chris and Will from Newcastle will analyse specimens to find out what they eat. Clare from Leeds is also running incubation experiments aboard with some of the samples, to see how quickly the microbes and invertebrates living in the sediments process organic matter that arrives at the seafloor.

After dropping and recovering the megacorer five times in water 1150 metres deep - and with our labs aboard now a hive of activity - we moved back to Hook Ridge to launch SHRIMP.


SHRIMP is our camera system for examining the seafloor below us. Its name is an acronym for Seabed High Resolution IMaging Platform, and it sends live video to the ship from its three video cameras as we tow it across the seafloor. The plan is to tow SHRIMP for the next 24 hours over areas on Hook Ridge where our CTD survey has detected signs of deep-sea vents.

January 2011


February 2011