VENTuRE Cruise – 27th-July-2011: Triumph

‘Triumphant’, can sum up the cruise so far. Excitement, happiness, and relief can accurately describe the feelings of the crew, the scientific party and the ROV pilots. Last night, we discovered the Moytirra vent field, a major, spectacular and beautiful vent field, the first between the Azores and Iceland on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge:

The ROV had been deployed for dive 095. Hours into the dive, near the sea floor, more than 3000m below the sea surface, large temperature, Eh and transmissometer anomalies were being recorded. I was fortunate enough to be the ‘Geo’ in the ROV shack at this time. The atmosphere was tense. Dr. Wheeler and Dr. Murton knew very well what these anomalies suggested. Black smoke and shimmering came into view on the ROV’s HD camera. The terrain was steep, where the ROV couldn’t see as far as the bottom of each scarp face, the ROV pilots had their work cut out for them. As excited and anxious as we were, the main ROV pilot Jim Nelson described this as a very big moment in his career. As the ROV was steered deep into the axial valley, thick, dense black smoke started to be blasted into the cameras on the ROV obscuring our view. At that point, we knew there must be a vent directly below us. As we lowered the ROV to the deepest it could possibly withstand, a huge shadow could be seen behind the smoke. We drew in closer to find a huge vent, pumping out black smoke. Now towering over the ROV at 13m tall like an evil villain, cheers of joy and relief were roared throughout, not only the ROV shack, but back on the main parts of the ship where the scientists and crew were watching on a big HD screen. We eventually named this largest vent ‘Balor’, after the ancient, giant, evil king of the Fomhorians, in Celtic Mythology. As we drew closer, we found more and more active vents appearing around Balor, blasting black smoke into a huge plume. We called these vents, ‘The Fomhoirians’.

As we looked through this huge vent field, we noticed species of chemosynthetic shrimp, crabs, and fish living on and around these vents. This whole ecosystem was like a large city, in the middle of nowhere, a bit like Cork really. Keeping an Irish stamp on the vent field, we named it ‘Moytirra’ (meaning ‘plain of the pillars’ from Celtic Mythology where 2 battles were fought).

For now, we’re all ecstatic, and are going to have a look around the vent site before deciding our next few moves, bearing in mind, time is ticking.

That’s all for now!

Check out our other blog: http://scientistsatsea.blogspot.com

Aaron

 

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