The following essay was written by cruise participant, Alexandro Ortega-Osorio of the Marine Research Group, Mexican Petroleum Institute.
Back to Guaymas Basin with the ROV Tiburon
About eight years ago was the first and
last time I visited the depths of the Gulf of California. Although this
sea is one of the most studied in the world, it did not matter to me. What
I was experiencing down there within a “steel sphere”—seeing the
obscure world of the deep hydrothermal vents—was unique. I felt like I
was the first man to visit the deep ocean of the Gulf, and I was about to
tell everybody something very important that had not yet been said. I
understood what an astronaut might feel when arriving on the moon for the
The amazing hydrothermal system that occurs
in this sedimented basin has been the interest of many scientists around
the world for the last twenty years. Several French, German, American,
Mexican, and Japanese expeditions have been carried out in the Gulf of
California in order to better understand the processes controlling such a
spectacular, extreme environment. In this environment, living organisms
coexist with the formation of chimneys, spires, and mounds made out of
precipitates of sulfides, carbonates, and silicates that result from the
interaction of cold sea water and hot hydrothermal fluid. Back in the
Basin with the ROV Tiburon represents an opportunity to dive
“deeper and longer” and complement what we know today about these
Diving with Tiburon is almost the same as being in a manned submersible, except that you don’t have to risk yourself lying down on your tummy for eight hours. Instead you can sit down comfortably in a control room for hours while doing experiments on the sea floor.
“Fishing for water” is just one of the
numerous activities on this cruise. The main goal of this Niskin bottle
sampling is to collect suspended particles from the hydrothermal vents in
order to study the precipitates that are coming from the fluid.
The photograph here shows Alex Osorio filtering the vent water from Niskin bottles fastened to the side of the ROV Tiburon.