Hot Vents in an Ice-Covered Ocean

The HACON cruise to the Aurora vent field took place between 19 Sept to 16 Oct on board R/V Kronprins Haakon! For more information, click on the blog for short stories about the cruise, or read the full cruise report.

An international and multidisciplinary team of 36 scientists and engineers, with the assistance of the officers and crew of the vessel, has conducted a multidisciplinary investigation of deep (4000 m) hydrothermal vents under permanent ice cover in the Arctic, investigating the Aurora vent field (82.5°N) in the Gakkel Ridge. These vent field was discovered in 2014 during the German AURORA cruise but only less than 1 min of video is available. The HACON cruise studied the Aurora vents with the ROV Nereus Under Ice (WHOI, with funding from NOAA-OE), the towed Ocean Floor Observation and Bathymetry System (AWI) and a series of other equipment.

Images: C. German, copyright WHOI; A. Purser, copyright AWI

HACON will unravel the geochemical and physical processes that shape the Aurora biological communities and assess the role played by the Gakkel Ridge in connectivity of chemosynthesis-based ecosystems between ocean basins. The project will provide empirical robust data of a pristine system prior to expected climate-change variations and increased human activities in the Arctic region.