Schmidt Ocean Institute’s new underwater vehicle SuBastian completes its first expedition discovering new hydrothermal vent sites and possible new species in the Mariana Back-Arc, an extreme deep-ocean environment.
APRA HARBOR, GUAM – A team of leading geologists, chemists, and biologists aboard research vessel Falkor have just finished surveying the largely unexplored Mariana Back-Arc for life at depths greater than 13,000 feet.
Dr. David Butterfield, JISAO, University of Washington, and Dr. William Chadwick, NOAA-PMEL and Oregon State University, led the group to the Back-Arc; returning for the second phase of a two-part exploration of the region.
In 2015, the team of scientists located new hydrothermal vents in the Back-Arc region, including evidence of recent lava flows. This year, the team returned to these vent systems with the new remotely operated vehicle (ROV), SuBastian, to characterize their water chemistry and biodiversity. The new results fill a gap in knowledge about the biogeography of these unique deep-sea ecosystems and has implications for how tectonic setting influences the composition of chemosynthetic animal communities worldwide.