2016.05.28 Finally! The Blue Mining Cruise Blog! – First Entry!

Welcome to this first instalment of the Blue Mining blog! Over the next couple of months we are aiming to keep all our avid readers up to date with our ongoing science, across both the RV Meteor (M127) and RRS James Cook (JC138) cruises associated with the EU-FP7 funded project “Blue Mining”. This first cruise, M127, is led by chief scientist Dr. Sven Petersen and co-chief scientist Dr. Jörg Bialas, (both GEOMAR) and is addressing research questions and technology development associated with work packages 1 (resource discovery) and 2 (resource assessment).

Over the next few days we are planning to provide a bit more information regarding each of the working groups on board (sediment coring, geological mapping, seismology, meteorology), the technology they use (such as the autonomous underwater vehicle AUV Abyss), aims for the cruise and how they aim to achieve these aims. However we will start with some background information about the TAG hydrothermal field, and why this is of such interest to our project.

Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse (TAG) hydrothermal field

The TAG hydrothermal field is located on the slow spreading mid-Atlantic Ridge at 26°N. It is widely regarded as the most ‘well known’ hydrothermal field, due to multiple studies, surveys and drilling of the main active black smoker complex, called the TAG mound, since its discovery in 1985. The TAG mound itself is classified as a seafloor massive sulphide (SMS) deposit. Although the active TAG mound is well known, several other inactive areas of past hydrothermal venting and relict mounds (known as extinct SMS deposits or eSMS) within the TAG hydrothermal field have been observed, but have not been the focus of many investigations until now.

The main aims of this project include:

  • Testing of sensors and methodologies for the discovery and assessment of eSMS developed in the frame of the “Blue Mining” project.
  • Obtaining high-resolution bathymetric maps, which cover not only the known TAG hydrothermal field, but across a larger area of the TAG segment of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge well beyond the existing datasets.
  • Obtaining high resolution 2D and 3D geophysical sections (including: seismics and electromagnetics) of the known eSMS deposits.
  • Collecting sediment cores targeting the cover of the eSMS to understand the geochemical relationship between the eSMS and overlying sediments.

28052016-blog 1-equipment

The scientific crew consists of 26 people from 8 countries representing 6 research institutes. We are currently three days into a five day transit, and almost all of the crew and scientists have their luggage (with the exception of a few unlucky German scientists and 8 (eight!) crew members). This transit period is being used to set up the labs, complete further planning of the areas of interest during the cruise and preliminary testing for a range of scientific equipment that will be used over the 24 working days in the TAG hydrothermal field.

The weather appears to be holding for now and is predicted (by our own personal meteorology team) to be relatively calm for the next couple of weeks, which is good news for the people feeling ill from the ‘motion of the ocean’ on the ship! However, if it’s not, we know whom to blame…

We hope that this little introduction has caught your interest and that you join us for our blogging journey over the next couple of months!