A team of NSF-sponsored scientists aboard R/V Roger Revelle is exploring some of the world's most extreme environments to better understand the ecology and diversity of microbial communities associated with actively forming deep-sea hydrothermal deposits.
Funded by the US National Science Foundation, Dr Anna-Louise Reysenbach and her international team of scientists are using the Remotely Operated Vehicle Jason to visit, view and document several active high-temperature hydrothermal vent fields that provide excellent natural laboratories for exploring the factors that influence the diversity and relationships of microbial communities that thrive in extreme environments -- places where acidic high temperature vent fluids mix with cold oxygenated seawater.
The journey will take R/V Roger Revelle to the middle of the Lau Basin, an area of the tropical west Pacific Ocean near Tongatapu, the main island of the Kingdom of Tonga. We are particularly interested in the 240km-long Eastern Lau Spreading Center (ELSC) and Valu Fa Ridge (VFR). Here, the ocean crust splits apart and magma wells up from the mantle, spilling lava onto the seafloor. This is also an area of unusually high heat flow, where concentrated geothermal energy powers deep-sea hydrothermal vents.
Research vessel operations at Scripps Institution of Oceanography are supported by the National Science Foundation (Awards 1119644, 1212770, 1227624, and 1321002).
R/V Roger Revelle is operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography under a charter agreement with the Office of Naval Research. Roger Revelle is one of six major oceanographic research vessels owned by the U.S. Navy and operated within the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System as shared-use research facilites.