5 July - 2 August 2014 (Tromsø - Tromsø)
The aim of research cruise ARK-XXVIII/3 is to study the geophysical, geological, geochemical and biological processes of hydrothermal vents at the Gakkel Ridge. The main target is the ‘Aurora’ vent field, located at 4000 m water depth at 82°53'N and 6°15'W on the southen end of the Western Volcanic zone. In 2001, dredges in this area recovered sulphide chimneys and camera observations revealed shimmering water as well as abundant fauna, which suggests active hydrothermalism. Since then, this promising area has not been further studied. We would like to use one of the newly-developped WHOI Hybrid ROV/AUV systems for under-ice diving in combination with new chemical sensors as well as with traditional research methods to study the hydrothermal processes that control the production of new oceanic lithosphere at this ultraslow spreading system, and the niches for chemosynthetic vent fauna and associated communities. Another goal is to identify any unknown fauna and to study their ecology and phylogeny in comparison to vent fauna of the Atlantic and Pacific.
During the cruise we will also be testing WHOI's new prototype ROV designed specifically for work beneath ocean ice cover: Nereid Under Ice (NUI). Although it is ultimately designed to operate to depths of up to 2000 m, and beneath glacial ice tongues too thick to access with an ice breaker, on this cruise the NUI vehicle will be used to demonstrate its ability to conduct first-of-its kind investigations investigating through-ice photosynthesis under sea-ice using in situ sensors mounted on the upper side of the vehicle as it operates close beneath the ice-sea interface at the top of the oceanic water column.
Development of the NUI vehicle is funded under NSF’s Office of Polar Programs ANT-1126311. Additional funding was provided by the James Family Foundation, the George Frederick Jewett Foundation East and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Berths for this cruise have been provided by AWI. Funding for participation in this cruise has been provided by NOAA with additional support from NSF and ONR.
Further information on the NUI vehicle can be found at WHOI's website: