Researchers investigate hydrothermal vents on research vessel's 30th anniversary cruise
Welcome to the world of the hydrothermal vents, where organisms frolic in total darkness within an apparently hostile environment, in waters hotter than 400 degrees Celsius. Scientists have long considered such places to be possible locations where life on Earth originated.
It is also here, amid the unique life forms, that plumes of hydrogen sulphide are emitted from the vents. Bacteria that had existed for millions of years, forming the basis of the food cycle, can be found here. Yet, despite this, they remain poorly understood.
Now, on a special 30th anniversary cruise of the research vessel Meteor to the Azores archipelago, a research team headed by geologist Christoph Beier of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, is currently on board. Aiding in their research is the ROV (remote operated vehicle) MARUM-QUEST, which will retrieve samples from the vents.
Built in 1986, the Meteor was commissioned for the purpose of scientific research. It has travelled the world's oceans for 30 years, enabling researchers to study the ocean, climate and marine creatures in the water and at the seafloor. Its pursuits have taken it to the Atlantic, eastern Pacific, West Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. In its 30 years of service, it has travelled 1.3 million nautical miles and served as home to 9,800 scientists.
The construction of the ship was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Today, as its owner, it contributes to 30 percent of the cost of the ship’s operations. The remaining 70 percent is handled by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). The Meteor’s home port is Hamburg.
“Seas and oceans have an enormous significance for the future of our planet,” said Federal Research Minister Johanna Wanka in German. “This enables scientists to conduct marine research of international standards within a modern research infrastructure. That is why we continuously renew the German research fleet.”
Sixteen ships are being showcased as part of Science 2016/2016 on the website (www.wissenschaftsjahr.de). Using the motto “Discover. Benefit. Protect. (German: Entdecken. Nutzen. Schützen)”, the BMBF is inviting the public to attend Open Ship events to get an insight into their research work, as well as to visit the institution’s marine research-themed blogs about the life and work on board the vessels.
Further information: www.bmbf.de
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