The Deep-Sea Chemistry group’s primary mission for the first leg of this expedition is to investigate the chemistry of the pore water—water that occupies the space between seafloor sediment particles—that surrounds various geologic features and active natural gas vents in the Santa Monica Basin. They will use as their primary tool a laser Raman spectrometer, which can bounce a specially-tuned laser beam off of almost any object or substance, and receive back a signal that provides information about that object's chemical composition and molecular structure. This tool will allow the team to get chemical data back from the seafloor in real time. They have used the high-resolution seafloor maps produced by MBARI’s mapping autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to determine where the more active young vents will be located, and plan to conduct their laser Raman studies at those sites.
For the second leg, the Molecular Ecology group plans to visit a whale carcass and several hydrocarbon seeps in the Southern California region to sample boneworms of the genus Osedax and collect chemosymbiotic clams and tubeworms. The animals and their symbiotic bacteria will be compared genetically with related animals from whale falls and cold seeps ranging from the Gulf of California to Monterey Bay and the northwestern Pacific margin. The comparisons will allow researchers to make inferences about how the animals and their associated microbes disperse among vastly separated habitats along the Pacific margin of North America.
Leg 2, Day 5: High winds
May 22, 2013
We had a short dive planned for today, but when we arrived at the Santa Barbara basin site, the winds were too high to launch the remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Read more...
Leg 2, Day 4: Santa Monica clam and worm reef
May 21, 2013
Today, we benefitted again from earlier MBARI efforts that mapped, and then surveyed, the Santa Monica South Canyon. Read more...
Leg 2, Day 3: A tale of two whales
May 20, 2013
We started our day with a dive at Pedro’s whale carcass, discovered by Peter Brewer and his team last week in the North Santa Cruz Basin. We were ordered to recover the vehicle shortly after the start of this dive because a Naval operation was planned for this area. After a few hours, we were informed that we could return to the waters and continue with a second dive. Read more...
Leg 2, Day 2: Clam dig at a deep seep
May 19, 2013
We started our day with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dive at a methane seep mound visited by Peter Brewer and his team on May 14. We found extensive bacterial mats of different colors—orange, red, yellow, and white—some thick and flat, others long and filamentous resembling a furry shag carpet from the 1970s. Read more...
Leg 2, Day 1: A whale fall community
May 18, 2013
Our first dive of this series took place 10 miles west of San Diego, CA, at a site where, 18 months ago, scientists from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography deployed a whale carcass. Read more...