Exploring the Seafloor

By Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Little is known about the seabed in the Antarctic
waters. For this reason, during the “Polarstern” Expedition PS 119 we are
exploring the bottom of the ocean, using the Remotely Operated Vehicle MARUM-QUEST here for the first time. Enormous chimneys rise from
the bottom of the sea - black and white smokers.

Chimneys of a Hydrothermalsystem at the seafloor (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

We discover a new hydrothermal field that no one has ever seen before. We officially call it "Alexander von Humboldt Field", in memory of the great polymath, whose 250th birthday was celebrated worldwide in 2019.

"Black Smoker" (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Over 300°C hot fluid escapes from this vent and hits the cold seawater. This precipitates metal sulfides, visible as black smoke.

Schwarzer Raucher (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Collecting a sample at the seafloor (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

At one of the vents, we have just taken a sample that will be examined later in the laboratory.

"Black Smoker" (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

For the first time, we can transmit our dives live on the Internet through telepresence. Researchers from all over the world are in touch with us and contribute their own expert knowledge.

Taking a fluid sample from a "Black Smoker" (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

The manipulator arm of the ROV holds a fluid sampler...

… and takes 150 milliliter sample of 230°C liquid at the outlet.

"Black Smoker" (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Again "black smoke", but on our flight through the deep sea we encounter quite different phenomena …

Shimmering Water (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Fluids of 53°C escape into 0°C cold sea water and are visually recognizable as streaks. The "Shimmering Water" is fascinating.

Kiwa-Crabs on a "Block Smoker" (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

At this "black smoker" crabs of the genus Kiwa have settled. How can they live without sunlight in the deep dark sea?

The Kiwa crab lives in symbiosis with bacteria that nestle in the bristly hair on their bodies.

Because the animals are so hairy, they also are called Yeti crabs.

Yeti-Crab on a Black Smoker (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

This yeti crab obviously feels too hot. She hurriedly retreats.

Taking a fluid sample from a "White Smoker" (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Here, sulfuric-acid-containing 230°C hot fluid flows out of a "white smoker". With a special, gas-tight fluid sampler, the ROV carefully takes a sample.

Sampling (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

We use the "pushcores" to sample the sediments.

Pillows at the Seafloor (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Pillow basalt on the East Scotia Ridge. The felt-like, bright microbe filaments characterize diffuse discharges of warm fluids.

Beautiful Underwater World (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

We closely follow the pictures that our ROV sends from the bottom of the sea. Even when we do not find what we are looking for, we marvel at this beautiful underwater world.

Exstinct "Black Smoker" (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Sea anemones and white Kiwa crabs liven up these extinct chimneys. A beautiful, bizarre-looking landscape at the bottom of the sea.

In the lightless deep sea, sparsely populated over long distances, the inhabitants of the hot vents and cold seeps have invented a special kind of metabolism: Their energy does not derive from the sunlight but from the chemical substances that are released in the interior of the Earth - instead of photosynthesis, they conduct chemosynthesis.

Researchers suggest that life on Earth could have originated billions of years ago in places similar to today's submarine hydrothermal systems.

Credits: Story

UNDERWATER FOOTAGE: MARUM-QUEST 4000, MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Science, University of Bremen www.marum.de

TEXT: Gerhard Bohrmann und Stephanie von Neuhoff

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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