SGER Proposal: Rare Research Opportunity to Study Geotectonic Fluids in Bransfield Strait and Scotia Arc, Antarctica
9731695 Klinkhammer This award supports participation of Oregon State University (OSU) researchers in an expedition of the German oceanographic research vessel POLARSTERN to the Antarctic Ocean (POLARSTERN cruise ANT-XV/2). Previous OSU researchers supported by the US Antarctic Program identified several areas of hydrothermal venting in the Bransfield Strait. This discovery has important implications to the biogeography of vent animals, the geological evolution of ore deposits, and the chemical and heat budgets of the Earth. The previous work sampled water and particles from above the vent sites at a reconnaissance level. Subsequent chemical analyses of these samples provided insight into the chemistry of fluids emanating from vents on the sea floor. The POLARSTERN cruise affords a unique opportunity to build on these discoveries in the Bransfield Strait, foster future international work in the Bransfield area, extend research on hydrothermal activity to other parts of the Antarctic Peninsula region, and develop a working relationship with a strong international group. In particular, the POLARSTERN expedition provides the opportunity for: 1) additional sampling of water and suspended particulate matter in the water column over the Bransfield hydrothermal sites this sampling would be aided by German photographic reconnaissance; 2) reconnaissance, to determine the broader geographical extent of hydrothermal activity, would be extended to the Scotia Arc and trench areas following the general theme of the German program which is fluid expulsion from the Scotia- Bransfield system; and 3) the use of unique tools available on the POLARSTERN such as a camera sled and grab bottom sampler. This work will make it possible to better define the location of hydrothermal vents and to begin to quantify the amount of water being expelled by this hydrothermal activity. If vents can be precisely located, the bottom photography holds the promise of revealing possible biologic al communities associated with these submarine hot springs.
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