Hot Vents in an Ice-Covered Ocean

We are going back to the Aurora vent field!

The HACON team will re-visit the Aurora vents in Sept-Oct 2021 on board R/V Kronprins Haakon, this time with the REV Ocean ROV!

The international and multidisciplinary team will re-visit the Aurora vent field, in the Gakkel Ridge, between 28 Sept and 24 Oct 2021. We will sail from Longyearbyen (Svalbard) and after doing some deep-water test for the new REV Ocean ROV, we will head back into the ice to the Aurora vent field (82.5°N). These vents were discovered in 2014 during the German AURORA cruise led by Prof Antje Boetius (AWI) on board Polarstern and were visited for a second time during the HACON19 cruise (see the 2019 cruise blog and report). However, until today, no ROV has been able to dive successfully to the vent field, at 4000 m depth under permanent ice cover. During the HACON21 cruise, we will use the REV Ocean ROV to sample for the first time these remote ecosystem. The geological, geochemical, physical and biological samples will allow the HACON researchers to understand the processes driving these vent systems and to assess if the Aurora vent fauna has evolved in isolation in the Arctic, or is genetically connected to the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean fauna.

Images: HACON19 & REV Ocean

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.