Photo & Video Log

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A selection of images showing some of the observations and discoveries made at the Von Damm hydrothermal field.

video Mission Summary
A selection of images showing some of the observations and discoveries made at the Von Damm hydrothermal field.

View a slideshow of the Okeanos Explorer's first few days at sea on the Mid-Cayman Rise expedition.

video August 5 Log
View a slideshow of the Okeanos Explorer's first few days at sea on the Mid-Cayman Rise expedition.

This time-lapse video shows NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer going through the first two sets of locks.

video August 2 Log
This time-lapse video shows NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer going through the first two sets of locks of the Panama Canal.

 

Images

From the first moment of the first dive we were able to land  right at the summit of the Von Damm hydrothermal field.

Mission Summary
From the first moment of the first dive we were able to land right at the summit of the Von Damm hydrothermal field. (HR)

One of the interesting geological findings during the expedition included this orifice more than 3 feet wide.

Mission Summary
One of the interesting geological findings during the expedition included this orifice more than 3 feet wide. (HR)

Overview map summarizing the work completed during the Mid-Cayman Rise 2011 expedition.

Mission Summary
Overview map summarizing the work completed during the Mid-Cayman Rise 2011 expedition. (HR)

Frozen sheet flow, examples of how lava must have flowed out over the seafloor here at 3500m depth at the Mid-Cayman Rise. Frozen sheet flow was imaged by the ROV during the tenth ROV dive of the expedition at the Mid-Cayman Rise, an ultra-slow spreading ridge.

Mission Summary
Frozen sheet flow, examples of how lava must have flowed out over the seafloor here at 3500m depth at the Mid-Cayman Rise. (HR)

A white galatheid squat lobster perches upon fractured pillow basalt lava.  Generally speaking, galatheids are scavengers found worldwide, but they can be found in high abundance near hydrothermal vents, where food is plentiful.  The red laser dots are 10cm apart.

August 14 Log
A white galatheid squat lobster perches upon fractured pillow basalt lava. (HR)

This rock may be basalt or peridotite, which are both iron-rich rocks.  Interaction with a hydrothermal fluid produces yellow-orange iron oxide, also known as rust. There is no shimmering hot water visible now, so the activity must have occurred sometime in the past.   This is still a useful scientific observation, since it tells us about the history of the area we are exploring.

August 14 Log
This rock may be basalt or peridotite, which are both iron-rich rocks. (HR)

The shimmer effect at this newly discovered hydrothermal vent results from a density contrast between seawater and vent fluid.  This density difference is primarily due to a difference in their relative temperatures.  This vent does not contain anhydrite (CaSO4), which would be expected to precipitate as a white cloud of mineral ”smoke” at 150°C, so it is likely around 100°C, in contrast with the very cold 4.2°C of ambient seawater, as recorded by temperature sensors on Little Hercules.

August 14 Log
The shimmer effect results from a density contrast between seawater and vent fluid. (HR)

The ”CTD rosette” includes conductivity (salinity), temperature, and depth sensors and a ring of gray Niskin water bottles.   The whole array is lowered over the side of the ship on a wire, and the bottles are opened at various depths by sending an electronic signal down the wire.  Here Dr. Cameron McIntyre is taking a sample of water from the water column to test for methane.

August 14 Log
The "CTD rosette"includes conductivity, temperature, and depth sensors and a ring of gray Niskin water bottles. (HR)

The hydrothermal vents on the seafloor near Von Damm are venting clear hot fluids, and we suspect that they are rich in methane.  As the fluids get mixed with seawater, they are diluted and cooled and are swept along with currents, but methane will exist for a while in the water.  As this graph from a CTD cast shows, even a mile away laterally from the seafloor vent field, there is a peak in the methane content well above that of regular background water.  By doing more casts every night, we can identify probable new vent sites that provide exciting targets for a future ROV dive.  Gas chromatograph methane measurements made by Cameron McIntyre.  Coordinated by Jeffrey Seewald with additional support from NASA ASTEP.

August 14 Log
The hydrothermal vents on the seafloor near Von Damm are venting clear hot fluids, and we suspect that they are rich in methane. (HR)

Dr. Karen Von Damm makes adjustments to the sampling basket on the DSV Alvin, in preparation for a dive following a 2005-2006 eruption on the East Pacific Rise spreading center.  Dr. Von Damm is remembered for her seminal research on the processes controlling hydrothermal fluid chemistry, along with her commitment to teaching and advising young scientists.

August 14 Log
Dr. Karen Von Damm, remembered for her seminal research and for her commitment to advising young scientists. (HR)

 

 

Overview of the working area in the Cayman Trench from Google Earth (lower right) with an arrow showing a detailed oblique view from Smith & Sandwell data (SnS).

August 12 Log
Overview of the working area in the Cayman Trench with an arrow showing a detailed oblique vie . (HR)

Backscatter 50m grid of the same area around Mount Dent collected by the EM302. (HR)

August 12 Log
Backscatter 50m grid of the same area around Mount Dent collected by the EM302. (HR)

Multibeam 50m grid of the same area around Mount Dent collected by the EM302.

August 12 Log
Multibeam 50m grid of the same area around Mount Dent collected by the EM302. (HR)

Oblique view of the backscatter draped mosaic of the data featured in Figure 2 which brings together both the snippet and depth information into one nice image.

August 12 Log
Oblique view of the backscatter draped mosaic which brings together both the snippet and depth information into one nice image. (HR)

Weathered hydrothermal sulfide rubble on the side of one of the main spires at the Von Damm site.

August 10 Log
Weathered hydrothermal sulfide rubble on the side of one of the main spires at the Von Damm site. (HR)

This jelly made an appearance as we were examining some of the cracks in the seafloor.

August 10 Log
This jelly made an appearance as we were examining some of the cracks in the seafloor. (HR)

 

 

We have also been finding some interesting geological features—this opening was approximately three feet wide—about the same size as the Little Hercules ROV —and had hot fluid coming from it and many shrimp living nearby.

August 10 Log
We have also been finding some interesting geological features. (HR)

Green eggs can be seen on this alvinocarid shrimp living near a hydrothermal vent at the Von Damm site.

August 10 Log
Green eggs can be seen on this alvinocarid shrimp living near a hydrothermal vent at the Von Damm site. (HR)

This is one of the “shrimp spires” that we found during the first few dives, in the area known as Von Damm.  The shrimp (possibly Rimicaris sp.) are crawling all over the rocks, likely attracted by the warm fluid seeping from the spire’s surface.

August 10 Log
This is one of the “shrimp spires” that we found during the first few dives, in the area known as Von Damm.  (HR)

Biological  debris that falls from higher in the water column, makes up much of the sediment that is deposited on the seafloor.

August 10 Log
Biological debris that falls from higher in the water column, makes up much of the sediment that is deposited on the seafloor. (HR)

A bubble gum coral (Paragorgiidae) with a comatulid crinoid attached.

August 8 Log
A bubble gum coral (Paragorgiidae) with a comatulid crinoid attached. (HR)

 

 

 

An abundance of Rimicaris sp. shrimp are clustered around an area of diffuse flow at the Von Damm vent site. These shrimp are about 10 centimeters long and eat chemosynthetic bacteria that are grown on their own bodies. There are also some zoarcid eelpout fish seen among the shrimp.

August 8 Log
An abundance of Rimicaris sp. shrimp are clustered around an area of diffuse flow at the Von Damm vent site. (HR)

A rocky cliff face with many different types of sponges attached. Sponges are sedentary and attach themselves to rocky areas and filter particles out of the water column.

August 8 Log
A rocky cliff face with many different types of sponges attached. (HR)

A <i>Benthodytes</i> sp. holothurian, or sea cucumber, swimming away from the ROV.  Sea cucumbers are commonly found on the deep -sea floor.

August 8 Log
A Benthodytes sp. holothurian, swimming away from the ROV.  Sea cucumbers are commonly found on the deep -sea floor. (HR)

Biological debris that falls from higher in the water column, known as ”marine snow” makes up much of the sediment that is deposited on the seafloor.

August 8 Log
Biological debris that falls from higher in the water column, known as "marine snow". (HR)

Team Rhode Island in the Exploration Command Center watching video streaming from NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer at the Mid-Cayman Rise.

August 7 Log
Team Rhode Island in the Exploration Command Center watching live video from the Mid-Cayman Rise. (HR)

Having the majority of the science team based onshore allows many experts to participate without taking up valuable space on the ship.

August 7 Log
Having most of the science team based onshore allows many experts to participate without taking up space on the ship. (HR)

The Inner Space Center can project video from both NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and E/V Nautilus simultaneously while both ships are in different locations around the world.

August 7 Log
The Inner Space Center can project video from both NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and E/V Nautilus simultaneously. (HR)

 

Science Team Lead, Chris German, provides an overview of the expedition and science objectives to the ship’s crew at the start of the expedition.

August 5 Log
Chris German provides an overview of the expedition and science objectives to the ship’s crew at the start of the expedition. (HR)

At least two species of shrimp are found at the Von Damm hydrothermal vent site. One relies on chemosynthesis for food, and the other may be a predator.

August 5 Log
At least two species of shrimp are found at the Von Damm hydrothermal vent site. (HR)

 

 

Matt O’Leary aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.

August 2 Log
Matt O’Leary aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.

 

 

 

NOAA's Seirios camera platform is secured on the aft deck of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer following the last ROV dive of the expedition.

Daily Updates
August 16, 2011
NOAA's Seirios camera platform is secured on the aft deck of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer following the last ROV dive. (HR)

A translucent holothurian; the gut can be seen through its transparent body wall. The holothurian feeds by trapping particles in its tentacles that are held in the water column.

Daily Updates
August 15, 2011
A translucent holothurian; the gut can be seen through its transparent body wall. (HR)

Image of an active hydrothermal vent (left) located SE of the central Von Damm hydrothermal field.

Daily Updates
August 14, 2011
Image of an active hydrothermal vent located SE of the central Von Damm hydrothermal field. (HR)

 

Frozen sheet flow, examples of how lava must have flowed out over the seafloor here at 3500m depth at the Mid-Cayman Rise.

Daily Updates
August 13, 2011
Frozen sheet flow, examples of how lava must have flowed out over the seafloor here at 3500m depth. (HR)

A termination failure occurred on the CTD rosette last night, ending the tow-yo early. Here, Chief Electronics Technician Richard Conway reterminates the wire.

Daily Updates
August 12, 2011
Chief Electronics Technician Richard Conway reterminates the wire. (HR)

Following completion of today’s dive, our next planned operation is a final CTD tow-yo overtop the Europa mound, setting the scene for tomorrow’s ROV dive.

Daily Updates
August 11, 2011
Following completion of today’s dive, our next planned operation is a final CTD. (HR)

Professor Paul Tyler, excited about the discovery of a habitat with dense biota, corals and very diffuse fluid flow during what was supposed to be the last 5 minutes of today's ROV dive.

Daily Updates
August 10, 2011
Professor Paul Tyler, excited about the discovery of a habitat with dense biota. (HR)

(from left) ROV Team Lead Dave Lovalvo, Commanding Officer CDR Kamphaus, and Science Team Lead Chris German talk about our operations at the Mid-Cayman Rise with participants located at both the Silver Spring ECC, and URI’s Inner Space Center.

Daily Updates
August 9, 2011
(from left) Dave Lovalvo, Kamphaus, and Chris German. (HR)

This image shows an overall perspective of the multibeam sonar data collected over the Mid-Cayman Rise so far by the Okeanos Explorer. The perspective is looking west-north-west, and Mount Dent is seen in the foreground.

Daily Updates
August 8, 2011
An overall perspective of the multibeam sonar data collected over the Mid-Cayman Rise. (HR)

Dr. Cameron McIntyre, processes water samples collected during the CTD tow-yo through the gas chromatograph to search for the presence of dissolved methane.

Daily Updates
August 7, 2011
Dr. Cameron McIntyre, processes water samples collected during the CTD. (HR)

Professor Paul Tyler watches video footage of a tubeworm at the Von Damm hydrothermal field.

Daily Updates
August 6, 2011
Professor Paul Tyler watches video footage of a tubeworm at the Von Damm hydrothermal field. (HR)

Science Team Lead Chris German serves as an Okeanos Explorer Watch Leader during ROV operations, communicating with many scientists ashore in real-time and ensuring their broader interests are incorporated into the dive.

Daily Updates
August 5, 2011
Science Team Lead Chris German serves as an Okeanos Explorer Watch Leader during ROV operations. (HR)

ROV engineers John Mefford and Chris Ritter run through a pre-dive check in preparation for the first ROV dive of the expedition.

Daily Updates
August 4, 2011
ROV engineers John Mefford and Chris Ritter run through a pre-dive check in preparation. (HR)

A vertical CTD cast was conducted this afternoon to test the system and collect water samples for testing the gas chromatograph.

Daily Updates
August 3, 2011
A vertical CTD cast was conducted this afternoon to test the system and collect water samples. (HR)

A photo of the "Bridge of the Americas" is taken as Okeanos Explorer departs Rodman and begins her transit through the Panama Canal. The bridge spans the Pacific entrance to the Canal.

Daily Updates
August 2, 2011
A photo of the "Bridge of the Americas" is taken as Okeanos Explorer departs Rodman. (HR)

The gas chromatograph generates a graph with two peaks, which show the relative amounts of hydrogen and methane contained in the water sample.

Gas Chromatograph
The gas generates a graph with two peaks, which show the relative amounts of hydrogen and methane. (HR)

Jill McDermott, PhD student at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, uses the gas chromatograph to determine the hydrogen and methane content of a water sample in the Seewald lab.

Gas Chromatograph
Jill McDermott, PhD student at WHOI, uses the gas chromatograph. (HR)

The sample gases are carried in a nitrogen gas flow through a column filled with zeolite minerals, seen here as six foot stainless steel tube coiled in two loops inside the instrument.  The gases have different molecular sizes, so the smallest gases pass through the microscopic pores in the zeolite more quickly than larger gases.  This separates the gases and allows detection of each individual gas species at the end of the column.

Gas Chromatograph
The sample gases are carried in a nitrogen gas flow through a column filled with zeolite minerals. (HR)

A sample has just been injected into the gas chromatograph using the syringe.  The hydrogen has passed through the column and detector and is visible onscreen as a peak in the graph.  Since it is a larger molecule than hydrogen, the methane peak will appear next.

Gas Chromatograph
A sample has just been injected into the gas chromatograph using the syringe.  (HR)

Profiles of Mt Dent on west of the Mid-Cayman Spreading Center (red) and Mt Everest (yellow) shown at the same scale. Mt Dent is clearly a big (undersea) mountain.

Tectonic Plates
Profiles of Mt Dent on west of the Mid-Cayman Spreading Center (red) and Mt Everest (yellow) shown at the same scale. (HR)

3-D perspective bathymetric map looking northwest, showing Mount Dent emerging from the axial valley of the Mid-Cayman Spreading Center.  Image generated using GeoMapApp from the Ridge Multibeam Synthesis Web.

Tectonic Plates
3-D perspective, showing Mount Dent emerging from the axial valley of the Mid-Cayman Spreading Center.  (HR)

The Ruby Mountain continental core complex in Nevada. The mountains rise 1500m from the plain and were formed by low angle extensional faulting. It is features like this that led to the naming of oceanic core complexes.

Tectonic Plates
The Ruby Mountain continental core complex in Nevada. (HR)

The Kane oceanic core complex from 23oN on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This is one of the most spectacular core complexes we’ve discovered with the smooth detachment fault surface clearly visible. The cross section shows what the crust is likely made of: green represents mantle peridotite; blue represents frozen mantle melts forming gabbro intrusion and magenta represents the basalt lavas and sheeted dikes that normally overly the gabbros.

Tectonic Plates
The Kane oceanic core complex from 23oN on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. (HR)

This image shows two views of the trailing hemisphere of Jupiter's ice-covered satellite, Europa. The left image shows the approximate natural color appearance of Europa. The image on the right is a false-color composite version to enhance color differences in the predominantly water-ice crust of Europa. There are a number of very good lines of evidence which suggest that beneath this icy cover lies an ocean- and many have speculated that if there is an ocean, there could be hydrothermal vents (and maybe even microbes!).

Microbes
This image shows two views of the trailing hemisphere of Jupiter's ice-covered satellite, Europa. (HR)

Back in the lab, we try to mimic the diverse hydrothermal vent environment to grow microbes. This anaerobic media is incubated at 90 °C (195°F).

Microbes
Back in the lab, we try to mimic the diverse hydrothermal vent environment to grow microbes. (HR)

Photomicrographs of a subseafloor thermophile isolated from deep-sea hydrothermal vent fluids. This organism eats sulfur and hydrogen and fixes its own carbon from carbon dioxide. (A, B) Scanning electron micrographs, and (C, D) transmission electron micrographs thin sections.

Microbes
Photomicrographs of a subseafloor thermophile isolated from deep-sea hydrothermal vent fluids. (HR)

All of life on earth is divided into three major domains- the Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya. This is the universal phylogenetic tree based on a gene that we all have, the ribosomal RNA. We (humans) are located in the crown group of animals, but the majority of diversity on this planet is in the microbial (bacterial and archaeal) world. Those lines highlighted in red lead to organisms that are heat-loving, the focus of much of our work at deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

Microbes
All of life on earth is divided into three major domains- the Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya. (HR)

Hydrothermal vent biogeographic provinces in the global ocean. Yellow indicates the East Pacific vents dominated by the tubeworm Riftia, mussels and clams. Red indicates the NE Pacific vents dominated by the tubeworm Ridgeia. Orange represents the vents of the western Pacific that may be dominated by stalked barnacles or snails. Lilac are the Atlantic vents and there is still a discussion whether the deep and shallow vents are the same biogeographic province. Blue represents the Indian Ocean vents at the Rodriguez Triple Junction.

Biodiversity
Hydrothermal vent biogeographic provinces in the global ocean. (HR)

 

 

 

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.

Mission Plan
Map showing the operating area for the 2011 Mid-Cayman Rise Exploration. (HR)

Targets of interest will be explored in detail using the Institute for Exploration’s (IFE) Little Hercules ROV (above) and NOAA’s newly developed Seirios  camera sled – a two-body ROV system equipped with high definition cameras and powerful lighting systems capable of diving to 4000m depth. When deployed, the ROV will be our “eye in the sea,” providing the expedition team and audiences on shore with a spectacular first look at the deep-sea habitats in the area.

Mission Plan
Targets of interest will be explored in detail using the Institute for Exploration’s (IFE) Little Hercules ROV. (HR)

Targets of interest will be explored in detail using the Institute for Exploration’s (IFE) Little Hercules ROV and NOAA’s newly developed Seirios  camera sled (above) – a two-body ROV system equipped with high definition cameras and powerful lighting systems capable of diving to 4000m depth. When deployed, the ROV will be our “eye in the sea,” providing the expedition team and audiences on shore with a spectacular first look at the deep-sea habitats in the area.

Mission Plan
NOAA's newly-developed Seirios camera sled will be used during the expedition as well. (HR)

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.

Mission Plan
Water samples collected using the CTD rosette. (HR)

 

 

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