Map showing the operating area for the 2011 Mid-Cayman Rise Exploration. This expedition will focus on the shallow outer “walls” of the ridge – using seafloor mapping, water column investigations for tell-tale chemical signals of nearby venting, and detailed ROV observations.

Water samples collected using the CTD rosette will be analyzed aboard the ship using a Gas Chromatograph to determine the concentrations of dissolved methane present. While high temperature vents emit a range of chemicals into the oceans that can be detected remotely using in situ sensors, only methane is enriched in all known forms of deep-sea hydrothermal systems and, hence, represents our measurement of choice for deep ocean exploration where we don’t know, in advance, what we expect to find. Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, MCR Expedition 2011.

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Related Links

Mid-Cayman Rise Expedition 2011: Mission Plan

Okeanos Explorer: Mid-Cayman Rise Expedition 2011

NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer

NOAA Ocean Explorer Gallery