DEEP SEARCH 2018: DEEP Sea Exploration to Advance Research on Coral/Canyon/Cold seep Habitats

Mission Logs

Follow along as participants in the cruise provide updates and reflections on their experiences, the science, the technology, and other elements of the expedition.

  • Mission Summary: What We Have Learned from DEEP SEARCH Expedition AT-41

    September 5, 2018  |  By Erik Cordes

    On the third dive of the expedition, the DEEP SEARCH team discovered thriving Lophelia pertusa reefs in a region further offshore and in deeper water than other known Lophelia reefs in the U.S. Atlantic.

    Although it was relatively short, this was an incredibly successful research expedition. We learned a lot about the different habitats in the study area between Virginia and Georgia. The information we have gathered will help us to understand these habitats and their dynamics—methane flux into the ocean and atmosphere, the life spans of corals, the flow of carbon and nutrients through canyons, and much more.

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  • What Happens After the Last Dive

    September 1, 2018  |  By Caitlin Adams

    After the last dive of the cruise, the Alvin team removes all of the paneling and gives the submersible a thorough cleaning. They will also run a series of tests and maintenance once we return to port, as they do at least once every 30 dives.

    On the last day of August 2018, the DEEP SEARCH team had its last Alvin dive of the cruise. Just because our dives were over yesterday does not mean the work is over though—not in the least.

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  • Dive Ten: What It’s Like to Explore a Deep-sea Canyon for the First Time

    August 30, 2018  |  By Zach Proux

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    As the DEEP SEARCH expedition aboard the R/V Atlantis winds down, graduate student Zach Proux writes about his first experience diving in the human occupied vehicle Alvin. Only 24 hours after the fact, he's surprised to say he doesn't know where to begin.

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  • Mud Madness, Part Two

    August 28, 2018  |  By Caitlin Adams

    Alvin takes a set of pushcores on the seafloor at Blake Ridge seep.

    Each time that we’ve sent Alvin to the seafloor so far during this DEEP SEARCH mission, we’ve sent some number of pushcores down with it. Pushcores are sampling tools designed to bring intact columns of sediment to the surface. Though the devices themselves might be simple, there’s actually a lot of complex information to be learned from the surface sediments we collect.

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  • Dive Six: What It’s Like to Dive in Alvin for the First Time

    August 26, 2018  |  By Caitlin Adams

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    When I first started planning this expedition with the DEEP SEARCH team nearly a year ago, I had no idea that it would result in such a spectacular expedition filled with successful dives, consistently great weather, and exciting discoveries. But what was most personally surprising and awe-inspiring for me was that I, too, got the chance to go down to the seafloor in Alvin.

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  • How Fast Do Deep-sea Corals Grow?

    August 25, 2018  |  By Sandra Brooke

    The experiment has been returned to the seafloor and will be collected next year when we return.

    How fast do deep-sea corals grow? As usual with questions pertaining to biology, the answer is "it depends." Just like terrestrial organisms, growth rates are influenced by a number of factors. Each species has a genetic "blueprint" that defines its growth capacity, but environmental conditions, food intake, and stress contribute to the actual growth of an individual.

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  • The Significance of Finding a Previously Undetected Coral Reef

    August 24, 2018  |  By Caitlin Adams

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    Scientists weren’t expecting this find, but it opens the possibilities for where Lophelia could be forming reefs. While Lophelia reefs are known to occur off the coasts of Florida to North Carolina at depths averaging 350-600 meters, the presence of these reefs at deeper depths (greater than 700 meters) and farther offshore make these newly discovered reefs unique, potentially connecting deep-sea coral habitats from the south to the north.

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  • Dive Three: Exciting Finds on Our First Coral Dive!

    August 23, 2018  |  By Caitlin Adams

    Alvin collects a sample of Lophelia pertusa from an extensive mound of both dead and live coral.

    Many members of the DEEP SEARCH team will spend the coming months and years fully characterizing the significance of our dive today. When the lengths of all of the mound features and probable reefs in the region are combined, the DEEP SEARCH team estimates that there’s approximately 85 linear miles of Lophelia reef here.

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  • What It’s Like to be at Sea for the First Time

    August 22, 2018  |  By Caitlin Adams, Ryan Gasbarro, Jonathan Quigley, & Natasha Vokhshoori

    Ryan Gasbarro, Jonathan Quigley, and Natasha Vokhshoori

    The transit time is also giving everyone on board a chance to replenish after yesterday’s first frenzied sample processing day. With not much else to report about the onboard goings-on, we’ve asked three members of the DEEP SEARCH team to share about their experiences so far.

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  • Dive Two: Sample Madness

    August 21, 2018  |  By Caitlin Adams

    When the CTD was hauled back onto the deck, the DEEP SEARCH team immediately got to work taking water fractions. The Joye, Cordes, Demopoulos, and Prouty labs are all analyzing water from each CTD cast.

    Today was exactly the type of dive that the DEEP SEARCH science team has been readying for over the last few months. All of the packing, the protocol reviewing, and the sample designing went from preparation to application the instant Alvin arrived on deck this afternoon.

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  • The Highs and Lows of Our First Alvin Dive

    August 20, 2018  |  By Caitlin Adams

    Swimmers Todd Litke and Drew Bewley sit atop Alvin as its lowered from the A-frame into the water. Once in the water, the swimmers are responsible for disconnecting the lines and communicating with the pilot inside to ensure that the sub is ready for descent.

    The first Alvin dive of DEEP SEARCH is complete! We had an interesting dive on Wilmington Canyon, which provided an excellent opportunity to dive somewhere entirely unexplored. After a successful and smooth first launch of the cruise, those onboard quickly learned that the dive would be challenging.

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  • The Endless, Necessary Preparation for an Alvin Cruise

    August 19, 2018  |  By Caitlin Adams

    The R/V Atlantis docked at its home port at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, MA.

    Though the DEEP SEARCH expedition didn’t leave port until the early morning of August 19, scientists started arriving to the ship as early as Thursday, August 16. The mobilization process for any research cruise is complex and time-consuming, and with nine different science teams aboard, the DEEP SEARCH mobilization was no exception.

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