Meteor-Blog 23. July 2008: Come on, let's dive
The big day has arrived: QUEST descents on his first dive! Florian Brinkmann documents the first underwater deployment of the diving robot on cruise M76/3b.
Aboard of RV Meteor cruise leader Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius and her crew give answers all around what marine research is about. In cooperation with the Geoportal planeterde.de they will lead through the Science-Blog of METEOR Expedition M76/3 GUINECO - MARUM research of fluid- and gas seeps on the West African continental margin. Technical highlight of the cruise is the remotely controlled underwater robot QUEST4000 by the MARUM that will carry out a rich sampling and experimental program. Dive down to places that no one has ever seen before: explore the fascinating deep sea marine fauna, go along with the scientists and watch their work at the gas seeps of the deep ocean.
Expedition M76/3b is a joint operation of MARUM-Center for Marine Environmental Research at Bremen University and its associated institutes MPI and AWI as well as the French research institute IFREMER and the University of Paris.
More information of the Meteor-Blog and expedition M76/3B at
23. Juli 2008 (Author: Florian Brinkmann)
Heute im Meteor-Blog:
„Moin moin (typical Northern German salutation)! My name is Florian Brinkmann (photo 1)! I am a PhD student at the Bremen Graduate School GLOMAR and I am currently working with the Geobiology group at the MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at Bremen University. My research mainly deals with carbonate samples which form at sites of gas seepage on the seafloor as a product of microbial respiration. Geochemical analysis and mineralogical investigations provide a better understanding of different occurring processes and support a deeper insight into open questions regarding the interaction between escaping gas, predominant habitats, and the inanimate environment. During this expedition I will collect a set of samples for my PhD project, but also help with mapping the seafloor and scientific support of the ROV dives (ROV: remotely operated vehicle). As it is my pleasure to be the responsible scientist for today’s dive, I will give a short summary of what has happened in the last eleven, very interesting hours, putting emphasis on the ROV mission.”
photo 1: Florian Brinkmann holding the ROV (in front of the video screen)
Come on, let’s dive!
This morning, after more than one week of transit, busy preparations, and intense planning, the long-awaited event finally happened: The ROV QUEST 4000 went on its first dive. Exactly at 8:30 the diving robot (photo 2) was manumitted from its steal mounting into the endless blue of the ocean. Not only the operating team under supervision of Volker Ratmeyer had been looking forward to this event, but also all other scientists and the ship crew. Unfortunately the high expectations were briefly let down, when some minor technical problems forced the operation to be cancelled. The heavy red hulk had to be lifted up onto the deck again. But luckily the team could solve the problems in less than half an hour, and hence a second launch was followed by many spectators, this time without any problems. After two hours of descent to a depth of more than 2750 meters the ocean revealed its beauty: a heavily populated seafloor (link to photo 3).
photo 2: The diving robot ROV QUEST 4000 is deployed
The actual investigation had started. Different streams of transmitted video signals from the ROV could be followed on several screens and monitors from all over the ship. Hardly anyone missed out on these spectacular scenes. Especially the HD camera provided amazing videos and a feeling of being on-site. This makes one feel proud about being part of such an expedition and the opportunity to see all these things most other people will never be able to see.
photo 3: First visual contact with the sea floor : a diverse ecosystem
The first objective was to locate a site of gas seepage. Based on a gas flare that was mapped with acoustic geophysical methods the night before, it took us less than half an hour to find the first bubbles. Despite several minor problems with the system (which is rather normal for the first dive of an expedition) many scientific tasks for the dive could be completed and a range of samples could be taken: gas bubbles in specific designed high pressure containers (photo 4), sediment samples in so called Push Cores (photo 5)- these are small cylinders that are used for recovering more or less undisturbed sediment cores- a net filled with mussels and tube worms, and small bottles with water samples. All together a quite good result for the first diving day.
photo 4: Pressure container for recovering gas bubble samples
After the ROV had finished its two hours ascent without any major problems, it was unfortunately discovered that the cable was damaged, and that a longer repair period is needed. However, with the samples recovered, for many of us the lab work has started: First samples can be investigated, quantified, prepared, or even analyzed. Even though there will be several other winch operated sampling events during this night, I will have to say good bye for now, as I have to work on my first gas sample. I hope this short insight into this day could give you an idea of the challenging and fascinating life on board of a research vessel.
Cheers and best wishes,
photo 5: Push Cores for retrieving rather undisturbed sediment samples