HADES: Kermadec Trench Expedition 2014
The Kermadec Trench runs northeast from the North Island of New Zealand (shown in red in this illustration) to the Louisville Seamount Chain. It is the second deepest oceanic trench in the world and formed by subduction, a geophysical process in which the Pacific tectonic plate is pushed beneath the Indo-Australian Plate. Credit: Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Hadal Ecosystems Studies Program
The deepest parts of the ocean, from 6,000 to 11,000 meters depth, comprise an area known as the “hadal zone.” This zone is a series of trenches, troughs, and deep depressions found around the world. Although the hadal zone accounts for the deepest 45 percent of the global ocean, it remains one of the most poorly investigated habitats on Earth. Far from being devoid of life as originally perceived in the 1800s, more than 400 species are now known to live in the 21 trenches of the hadal zone.
From April 12 – May 20, scientists will be on board the R/V Thompson, using the hybrid remotely operated vehicle, Nereus, to explore systematically for the fist time, the hadal Kermadec trench system and the neighboring abyssal plain in the Southwestern Pacific, north of New Zealand. This expedition is the first of many anticipated missions that will be conducted as part of the Hadal Ecosystems Studies (HADES) Program.
HADES is a collaborative program involving researchers from nine institutions. Funded by the National Science Foundation, HADES is at aimed answering the foremost questions in trench and hadal ecosystem science, to determine the composition and distribution of hadal species and the that role pressure, food supply, physiology, depth, and seafloor topography have on deep-ocean communities and the evolution of trench life.
We’ll be posting short updates throughout the expedition, but be sure to check the HADES program website for full expedition coverage, including posts, images, and video.
The action as the science party and Nereus team make final preparations for the mission before leaving Auckland on April 11, 2014. Click image for more information, credit, and larger view.
A team prepares a weight to go over the stern of R/V Thomas G. Thompson to test repairs to the winch. There is a saying in oceanography, “Don’t put anything in the water you can’t afford to lose.” Click image for more information, credit, and larger view.
Eat or Be Eaten. The hadal lander deployed by Alan Jamieson and Thomas Linley from the University of Aberdeen provides a rare glimpse at a few of the animals that live in total darkness on the deep seafloor. Click image for more information, credit, and larger view.
Ordinary seaman Michelle Barutha helps deploy a hadal elevator from the deck of R/V Thomas G. Thompson during ballast tests on the dock in Auckland Harbor. Click image for larger view and image credit.
April 28th update: The hadal lander returns from a deployment to 5,000 meters last week. Click image for update and larger view.
Eleanna Grammatopoulou from the University of Aberdeen collects a water sample from Niskin bottles mounted on one of the landers to compare particulate organic carbon in the bottom and surface waters. Click image for larger view and image credit.
Members of the Nereus team and ship's crew recover Nereus to the deck of Thomas G. Thompson last week. Click image for larger view and image credit.
May 2 update: Dives in the Kermadec Trench. Mario Fernandez, Casey Machado, Tim Shank, and Santiago Herrera (left to right) in the Nereus control room during an 8-hour dive to 6,000 meters. Click image for update and larger view.
Whitman College undergraduate Gemma Wallace and WHOI post-doc Santiago Herrera collect samples of amphipods from 7,000 meters in the Kermadec Trench. Click image for larger view and image credit.
WHOI engineer Mario Fernandez remotely pilots Nererus on the surface close to the ship during recovery of the vehicle. Click image for larger view and image credit.
May 12 update: Farewell to Nereus. Scientists think Nereus imploded exploring the Kermadec Trench. Click image for update and larger view.
Whitman College undergraduate Gemma Wallace (left) and University of Hawaii graduate student Mackenzie prepare to measure the displacement volume of a holuthirian brought up from 8,000 meters. Click image for larger view and image credit.
The depressor is readied for launch ahead of Nereus on a dive to 9,000 meters. Click image for larger view and image credit.
R/V Thompson able-bodied seaman signals the crane operator to lower the revised hadal lander into the water. Click image for larger view and image credit.
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