Map benthic communities inhabiting unexplored areas around the Azores, identify new areas that fit the FAO VME definition; and determine distribution patterns of deep-sea benthic biodiversity.

Leg 1: 8 – 31 August 2020: Slopes of Graciosa island & Ilha Azul seamount

Leg 2: 24 September – 1 October 2020: Ilha Azul, Mar da Fortuna, Serreta and João Leonardes seamounts & W slopes of Terceira

Leg 3: 20-26 November 2020: Condor de Fora and Baixo de S. Mateus seamounts

Cruise report:

Short mission dedicated to the maintenance of the EMSO-Azores observatory at Lucky Strike, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 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.

Facebook link to the expedition:

See also article in iAtlantic Newsletter – issue 2

Cruise report:

UK GOSHIP section A05 – also called RAPID, located at 24ºN – full GO-SHIP hydrographic cruise (CTD,ADCP, full suite of nutrients, carbon etc)

Depart Fort Lauderdale, United States on 16 January 2020, return to port in  Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain on 1 March 2020.

This cruise is part of the UK’s CLASS programme.

Cruise report available at:

Mooring recovery and re-deployment in the Iceland Basin and Rockall Trough, including the OSNAP array in the Iceland Basin and the Ellett array in Rockall Trough. Work will include hydrography, water chemistry and mooring maintenance. Scope of cruise reduced due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Cruise report at:

Postponed due to COVID-19 – awaiting further information on rescheduling

The primary purpose of this cruise is to service the Porcupine Abyssal Plain observatory, take biological samples and carry out benthic surveying

Imirabilis2 Logo

Named after the long-lived Welwitschia mirabilis plant of western Africa, the iMirabilis expedition is one of the flagship “Demonstrator Capacity Building cruises” of the iAtlantic project. The cruise will take place on the Spanish Research Vessel Sarmiento de Gamboa (SdG) in July – August 2021. The expedition was postponed from 2020 due to the Covid-19 situation, hence we re-named the new expedition as iMirabilis2

The ship will travel from Vigo (Spain) to Last Palmas (Canaries, Spain), and from there will move to Cabo Verde waters to carry out the main research work. The transit between Vigo and Las Palmas will also be used for different training and capacity building activities. The expedition will finish in Las Palmas (Canaries, Spain).

iMirabilis2 is an international multidisciplinary expedition with activities contributing to many tasks across iAtlantic’s work packages. At-sea activities will study both the water column (e.g. measuring oceanographic parameters, water and plankton sampling) and the seafloor. iMirabilis2 mobilises state-of-the-art seabed survey equipment including the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Autosub6000 (from NOC) and the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Luso (from EMEPC). This advanced technology allows iAtlantic to explore benthic ecosystems in great detail producing large high-resolution photographic results that will be processed automatically using new machine learning approaches.

The results of these surveys will be used to produce high resolution habitat maps in Cabo Verde. Moreover, the ROV Luso will allow collection of selected specimens for taxonomic purposes and for dating. Furthermore, new technologies will be tested during iMirabilis2 including the eDNA ‘RoCSI’ sampler recently developed by researchers from National Oceanography Centre (NOC). Seabed lander equipment will also be deployed during iMirabilis2 to obtain in situ information on environmental parameters and demersal deep-sea fish fauna. Ex situ experimental work will also take place on the ship, including short-term aquaria experiments with specimens collected with the ROV and incubations of sediment cores, collected by multicore.

Beyond the pure research activities, iMirabilis2 includes detailed training and capacity building components. Young researchers will join the transit from Vigo to Las Palmas to be trained in the use of the ROV and in seabird identification and seabird census techniques. Furthermore, during the expedition, iAtlantic Fellows will be on board to be trained in the use of the different gears as well as to learn how a research expedition is organised and led at sea. A dedicated outreach and capacity building representative on board will ensure as much ship-board activity as possible is communicated to broad audiences through virtual platforms.

Visit the iMirabilis2 expedition website and blog

The aim is to re-visit the Darwin Mounds and NW Rockall Bank MPAs and assess their status and the status of the cold-water corals, to test a new stereocamera system for the Autosub6000 AUV(BIOCAM) and to collect water column profiles on the Rockall margin. For iAtlantic we will collect additional box cores for macrofauna study (timeseries). Gear: AUV, HyBIS video platform, boxcore, megacore, CTD, mooring deployments.

Cruise report available at:

The MapGES 2019 cruise aimed to explore ridges and seamounts in the Azores EEZ to improve understanding of the drivers of distribution patterns of VME and commercial deep-sea fisheries.

Leg 1: Horta harbour-Horta Harbour,23 Jun 2019-02 Aug 2019

Leg 2: Horta harbour-Horta Harbour, 13 Aug 2019-24 Aug 2019

Leg 3: Horta harbour-Horta Harbour, 27 Aug 2019-03 Sep 2019

Cruise report available at:

ROV survey of Porcupine Bank Canyon (HD video and retrieval of lander systems)

Cruise report is available at: