Lots of activity
Last night, the science team made a discovery that got everyone excited. While exploring the underwater volcano Kolumbo, northeast of Thera, they saw a very active field of hydrothermal vents. The video pictures from the ROV Argus revealed tall chimney structures with gasses bubbling out. At one point, the camera view was filled with bubbles! Around the vents, colorful bacterial mats covered the sea floor.
Unfortunately, there was also a problem. For several days, the ship's bow thruster has been broken. Without the bow thruster, it is hard to keep the ship in one location. The wind and water can push the ship in different directions which makes it very difficult to use the ROVs to at the vent site. Without the bow thruster, the team has been able to use Argus, which is connected to the ship by a strong cable. However they have not used Hercules, which can drive around and is affected more by the movement of the ship.
Hercules can do lots of things that Argus can't do. It has a robotic arm that can pick up rock and sediment samples. Herc also carries a temperature probe that the scientists can use to find out how hot the water is inside the hydrothermal vents. All the scientists were very frustrated that they had found a beautiful, active vent system but they could not look at it closely and take samples.
Last night they made a decision to put Hercules in the water even without the bow thruster. They drove the ship very carefully and used the wind to help stay in one position. The decision paid off. They were able to use Hercules to examine the vent field up close and collect samples, and measure the temperature of the vents.
Today, everybody has new energy. They are excited about the new vents, and the excitement shows in the live Immersion Presents broadcasts. We hope you are enjoying the shows.
View more photos of the hydrothermal vents.