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British scientists to investigate Caribbean deep-sea hydrothermal vents 10 August 2008

Posted by admin in Caribbean, current research, geoscience, submarine volcanism, volcanology.
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RRS James Cook at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (Image credit National Oceanography Centre, Southampton) 

Using the latest in deep-sea exploration technology, British scientists are to investigate the world’s deepest undersea volcanic ridge, 6000 metres down at the bottom of the Cayman Trough in the Caribbean. The United Kingdom’s newest dedicated scientific research vessel, RRS James Cook, will devote two month-long cruises to exploring the Cayman Trough, employing the remotely-operated Isis submarine and the autonomous underwater vehicle Autosub6000.

The scientific team is led by Dr John Copley of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, where RRS James Cook is based. The primary focus of the project is the study of the geochemistry and biology of undersea volcanic vents, and the investigation of hydrothermal processes where the Earth’s mantle is directly exposed to seawater. Hydrothermal vents in such cases, says Dr Copley, ‘could be hotter than 500C (930F), and if they are that hot, they will probably have quite different chemistry and life forms – we expect to find new species’.

Image: RRS James Cook at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (credit: National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, used with permission).

Sub to make deep Caribbean dive – BBC News, 9 August 2008
Robot submarine to dive deep in the Caribbean – ZDNet.com, 10 August 2008

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton – the UK centre for oceanographical research
RRS James Cook – information from the National Oceanography Centre
RRS James Cook Homepage – an unofficial site by a member of the James Cook technical team

The Volcanism Blog