The annual scientific pilgrimage to the EMSO deep-sea observatory is underway, with the French research vessel L’Atalante steaming southwards from Toulon towards the portion of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near the Azores.
Research scientists from Ifremer make this journey every year to service the deep-sea observatory instruments and collect data. The EMSO non-cabled multidisciplinary observatory is devoted to the long term integrated study of mid-ocean ridge processes, from the subsea floor to the water column. This year the science team on board also includes scientists from the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris.
RV L’Atalante left Toulon on 15 May, and will take around 10 days to reach the observatory site. Once there, the team will not only carry out the necessary maintenance tasks on the observatory but will also undertake a range of investigations using other equipment, including Ifremer’s manned submersible Nautile which can dive to 6,000m with three passengers on board.
The data collected during this expedition will feed into iAtlantic’s work on environmental timeseries. The team will also sample mussel larvae and juveniles that will be kept alive onboard for lab experiments back at base to assess the impact of climate change on the behaviour and physiology of mussel juveniles through varying oxygen concentrations.
You can follow the progress of L’Atalante and the team on board via the expedition’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CampagneMomarsat (en français)