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Interdisciplinary Investigation of a New Hydrothermal Vent Field

During a 2015 Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) expedition in the Gulf of California, when the science team found a unique and distinctive hydrothermal field. This November a team of scientists led by Dr. Robert Zierenberg, Dr. David Caress, and Dr. Victoria Orphan, will return to the site, with an interdisciplinary team ready to tackle a full investigation of the tectonic, geochemistry, and associated microbial communities and life forms around these recently discovered hydrothermal vents.

The new vent field was discovered sitting atop a fault scarp at more than 3,600 meter depth in the Southern Pescadero Basin (SPB), the southernmost sediment-covered pull-apart basin in the Gulf of California. The limits of this vent field have yet to be defined and many features have yet to be explored, but what is clear is that these vents are unusual physically, chemically, and biologically.

Using new technology, scientists will be able to explore the sediments and their associated microbes to possibly validate the presence of subsurface metal and the critical community of life surrounding this habitat.

The vents at SPB offer a unique opportunity to compare microbial and animal community compositions between vents with different chemistries and mineral deposits. To fully investigate both the geochemical and biological sides of the story, this 21-day cruise will be split into two legs with an interdisciplinary team of geologists, chemists, microbiologists and biologists on board the R/V Falkor.

To find out more, visit the research cruise’s webpage.

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