This year was supposed to be very special for the MoMARSAT annual cruise, celebrating ten years of data flowing from the 1700 m deep hydrothermal vent field Lucky Strike! Originally planned for July 2020, the remaining scientific party and ship crew boarded the French research vessel Pourquoi Pas? on 4 September in Toulon (France) after 10 days of quarantine in a remote nearby countryside hotel. After 2 COVID tests and a 7-day transit to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge off the Azores, they will finally be ready for a short mission dedicated to the maintenance of the EMSO-Azores observatory, a non-cabled multidisciplinary observatory devoted to the long term integrated study of mid-ocean ridge processes, from the subsea floor to the water column.
The MoMARSAT 2020 oceanographic campaign is jointly carried out by Ifremer and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP-CNRS / INSU). This cruise is part of a long series that started in 2010 with the deployment of the EMSO-Azores observatory at the Lucky Strike vent field located within the Azores Marine Protected Areas. Every year since then, a maintenance cruise to the site is carried out to ensure the good functioning of the observatory: the two sea monitoring nodes (seamon) are brought up to the surface where the engineering team download large volumes of data from the instruments, which are then cleaned, checked, repaired if needed, and set-up for another year of observations!
The observatory aims at understanding how geophysical, geochemical and hydrodynamics factors control the circulation, flux and distribution of hydrothermal fluid and how these processes structure the associated biodiversity, from microorganisms to megafauna. Annual visits also allows ancillary sampling and experimental studies which contribute to increasing the spatial footprint of the observatory and help to characterise the natural temporal variability of vent systems, the functioning of the ecosystem and their resilience to natural or anthropogenic disturbances.
This year, the cruise is shorter because of the heavy health and safety protocol, and the scientific team was downsized, but we are confident the observatory will be up and running for another year. Some of the work that will be conducted by iAtlantic participants include the recording of video transects of the Eiffel Tower edifice. This imagery dataset will be turned into a 3D reconstruction of the edifice that will add to a long series of reconstruction to better understand the environmental drivers of biodiversity patterns over time (WP2 and WP3).
Follow the cruise on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CampagneMomarsat !
Written by the EMSO-Azores team at the deep-sea lab, Ifremer