We are here to carry out a 41 day expedition in the Southern Ocean to explore the newly discovered hydrothermal vents in this remote region. Our principal scientist or expedition leader is Paul Tyler from the University of Southampton who has vast amounts of experience of working in this hostile environment.
This expedition will take us south to the Bransfield Strait, Antarctica to our first site called Hook Ridge which is at 62°S. We know that there are hydrothermal vents pumping hot water into the sediments and overlying water and we will investigate the biological communities in this extreme environment. Our work with the remotely operated vehicle will start in earnest at this far southern site and we will keep you up to date on our progress throughout the expedition.
Day 1: Punta Arenas, Chile: 53°S
The NERC research ship James Cook is in dock in Punta Arenas, one of the world’s most southern cities. 21 Scientists, including 11 from Southampton, have flown south to join the ship and our first job is to unload the huge amount of equipment that we need for our expedition. We have just loaded 9 containers from the dockside in Punta Arenas to add to the 3 that already were on board. Overseeing these complex logistics is Jez Evans from the National Marine Facilities group who has to deal with our many demands, the complexities of international freight and customs and the fact that the region is paralysed by the general strike and the city largely blockaded by the tax-hike protesters.