Exploring a deep water system
Volcanic waters in the cold Southern Ocean are the destination for RRS James Cook for the next few weeks. Scientists are exploring a deep water system of hydrothermal vents, calderas and cold seeps on the seabed off the coast of Antarctica.
They are investigating the habitat that these super-heated waters provide. Too deep for sunlight to support vegetation, the animals found at vents live in chemosynthetic habitats provided by the toxic elements dissolved in the water plume. Vents are also known as chimneys and black smokers because of the appearance of the dark grey water plume that looks like smoke.
The team will be using Isis, the UK’s deep-diving ROV (remotely-operated vehicle). Although capable of diving to ocean depths of 6500 metres, (4 miles) on this expedition Isis will be working at 2800m (just under 2 miles). High definition cameras will reveal and record the animals living at these sites.
While on board, the scientists will be contributing to a daily blog called Hot Vents, Cold Ocean: http://hotventscoldocean.blogspot.com They will be posting videos and daily observations about their work in the world’s most remote ocean – the East Scotia Ridge at the southern end of the South Sandwich Islands.