RV POLARSTERN - Expedition PS119
Punta Arenas (Chile) - Port Stanley (UK)
13 April - 31 May 2019
Seeps and Vents from Trench to the Back-Arc of the Sandwich Plate – Fluid and Gas Circulation of a Micro-Plate
During R/V POLARSTERN cruise PS119 we investigate hydrothermal vents and potential cold seeps at the Sandwich micro-plate using the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) MARUM-QUEST. The planned research is based on the discovery of unique hydrothermal vent ecosystems at the back-arc spreading East Scotia Ridge (ESR), as well as at submarine volcanoes of the South Sandwich Island Arc (SSIA) in the frame of the British CHESSO program, and findings during PS ANT-XXIX/4 (in 2013). The overarching theme of the project is to study in a comparative way the geological settings of geofuel emissions at the seafloor with their associated ecological hot spots. These hot spots are sites inhabited by diverse microbial and eukaryotic life largely based on utilising the energy-rich chemical compounds in geofuels emitted at fluid emission sites. Because of its close spatial proximity, the extreme chemical composition of the subduction factory and biogeographic key area to understand global distribution pattern of chemosynthesis-based ecosystems, the fluid emission sites of the Sandwich micro-plate is an ideal area for research. In a cross-disciplinary approach, we intend to study aspects of geology, geochemistry, microbiology, symbiont-host relationships, as well as eukaryotic biogeography in an international research consortium combining experts in their respective fields of science.