Mission Logs

Follow along as participants in the cruise provide updates and reflections on their experiences, the science, the technology, and other elements of the expedition.

  • Scientists Explore Biodiversity of Poorly Known Deep-sea Areas Targeted for Seafloor Mining

    July 11, 2018

    An international team led by scientists from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa recently returned from a 34-day expedition to study deep-sea biodiversity and ecological processes in the western Clarion-Clipperton Zone. The expedition, aboard the UH-operated research vessel Kilo Moana, studied an area in the Pacific Ocean where numerous manganese nodule mining exploration claims are located.

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  • Women in the Ocean Sciences: A Slow Turning of the Tide

    June 16, 2018  |  By Dr. Erica Goetze

    Jen Durden – Postdoctoral Fellow, Kim Krueger – Chief Mate, Astrid Leitner – PhD Student

    Women now make up a significant fraction of the scientists and crew working at sea in the research fleet. Here, I highlight the indispensable contributions of several women working on the R/V Kilo Moana during this DeepCCZ expedition, and share their background, expertise, and contributions to the overall scientific enterprise.

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  • Slicing Through Time

    June 15, 2018  |  By Regan Drennan

    Manganese nodules: at the size of large potatoes, these are tens of millions of years old.

    This has been my first time working on a research cruise, and there have been several moments that have truly made me stop in my tracks and appreciate the perspective of the scales that deep sea research works at, and the near-inconceivably bizarre, beautiful, and science-fiction like world that it entails—far more so than I have experienced from just reading scientific papers.

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  • Probing the Sediment to Characterize How the Ecosystem Works

    June 14, 2018  |  By Marta M. Cecchetto and Dr. Andrew K. Sweetman

    Malihini chamber.

    Over the past month, the Heriot-Watt University team have been deploying two unique seafloor lander systems to quantify organic matter cycling and measure ecosystem functioning.

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  • Why Does the Oxygen Penetration Depth Vary in Different Sediments?

    June 13, 2018  |  By Annabell Moser

    The Microprofiler lander AKA Yellow Tang at its first deployment.
    The Respirometer lander AKA Malihini (Hawaiian for newcomer).

    Many different reasons determine the oxygen penetration depth of sediments such as sediment structure/size/composition, concentration of organic matter (all particles that fall from the surface layer of the ocean into the deep and function as food), organism activity such as bioturbation, oxygen concentration in the overlying water, and physical parameter such as currents.

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  • The Weird and Wonderful Megafauna of the Abyssal CCZ

    June 12, 2018  |  By Dr. Craig Smith

    Gummy squirrel (“Psychropotes longicauda”) at 5,100 meters depth on abyssal sediments in the western CCZ. This animal is ~60 centimeters long (including tail), with red feeding palps (or “lips”) visibly extended from its anterior end (right).

    What is yellow, 40 centimeters (16 inches) long, has 7 lips, 92 feet and a spikey profile like a punk rocker? An abyssal sea cucumber of course!

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  • The Strangers Beneath Us

    June 11, 2018  |  By Dr. Helena Wiklund

    A close-up of the mouth of a brittle star from APEI 7.

    Down on the seafloor live stranger, and more, organisms than we can imagine. More often than not, while watching live images from the seafloor remotely operated vehicle (ROV), the scientists onboard burst out: "Wow! What IS that? Did you see that?!"

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  • Shrunken Cups! High-pressure Artwork

    June 9, 2018  |  By Dr. Emma Wear

    A decorated cup before and after it was sent down to 5,000 meters on a CTD cast on the abyssal plain, with a normal cup for scale. This cup shrunk from 13.5 centimeters tall to only 6.5 centimeters.

    One of the fun aspects of deep-sea oceanography is the chance to make shrunken Styrofoam cups. Many oceanographers have two or three of these pieces of art sitting around their offices as souvenirs of past cruises. We decorate Styrofoam cups with markers, attach them to the side of an instrument that we’re sending to the bottom of the ocean, and get them back several inches smaller than when they went overboard.

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  • Environmental DNA in the Abyss

    June 7, 2018  |  By Dr. Erica Goetze

    A sediment core being processed in the lab following return of the ROV to the sea surface.

    This is technical and difficult work, demanding an integrated and collaborative team of engineers, biologists and data management experts to successfully complete baseline surveys in the region. One thing that comes to mind is—Gosh this is hard! Could there be an easier way to survey the animals living in this remote and difficult-to-sample habitat? And if so—what would that approach look like?

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  • The Seamount Conundrum

    June 6, 2018  |  By Meagan Putts

    In the satellite map, lighter blue areas indicate raised areas of the sea floor. The lighter the blue, the more likely it is a seamount. In the multibeam map, the track that the ship mapped during the transit from APEI 7 is overlaid over the satellite map. Red indicates depths shallower than 3,000 meters and dark blue indicates depths greater than 5,000 meters.

    Have you ever explored the ocean floor using Google maps? If you do, you will notice that the entire ocean is covered with features ranging from seamounts to fracture zones. Since less than 5% of the ocean floor has been directly mapped, you may be wondering where the data comes from that shows such a detailed picture of the ocean floor. The answer is satellites.

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  • Protecting the High Seas

    June 4, 2018  |  By Kirsty McQuaid

    A blue sky day over the blue ocean in the western CCZ.

    Many researchers, including those on DeepCCZ, work tirelessly to gather information about the deep-sea environment in the high seas so that we can better manage the use of its resources and protect it from harmful activities. There are currently several different legal instruments at the regional and global levels to manage human activities in the high seas (e.g., fishing and shipping).

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  • Exploring the CCZ – Step One: Where Are We Going?????

    June 2, 2018  |  By Dr. Astrid Leitner

    A map of the existing multibeam data from the CCZ with the main Hawaiian Islands included for reference.

    With all the buzz about deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining and with mining companies seeking mining exploration claims across the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), one would think this region is reasonably well known. Our current map of the CCZ may therefore come as a bit of a surprise.

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  • Microbes in the Abyss: Tiny Engines of the Deep Sea

    May 29, 2018  |  By Dr. Matthew Church and Dr. Emma Wear

    The conductivity, temperature, depth sampling package (CTD) getting ready to be deployed from the ship. The sampling bottles are affixed to the outside of a suite of instruments and the entire package is deployed on a conducting wire, providing real-time data on ocean physics and chemistry as the package descends and ascends through the water.

    It’s hard to fathom what it’s like to live in the abyssal sea, miles below the sunlit world we experience. Dark, cold, high pressure, all the time. Living in such a habitat is so foreign to the way we interact with the world. Yet life in this deep-sea world is directly coupled to the world we know.

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  • Pumping in the Deep—The Search for Colonizers

    May 27, 2018  |  By Oliver Kersten

    A small assortment of near-bottom meroplankton from the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) that was collected with the plankton pumps at 3 meters above the seafloor.

    The plankton pumps are currently our most effective way of collecting near-bottom plankton from the deep sea, which includes both holoplankton (organisms that live as plankton their whole life) and meroplankton (organisms that live in the plankton during only part of their life, such as the larvae of seafloor organisms.

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  • Feeding the Wildlife

    May 25, 2018  |  By Dr. Jeff Drazen

    You might be surprised that we are feeding the deep-sea wildlife in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We use camera systems designed to sink to the seafloor, free of the ship, with a parcel of food (dead fish) in view.

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  • First Impressions of Life Aboard a Research Vessel

    May 21, 2018  |  By Regan Drennan

    The ROV about to embark into the inky depths.

    When it comes to research cruises, I am indeed a novice. The whole experience so far has given me a great appreciation for just how much work from so many people goes into collecting this kind of data.

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  • Settling into a New Reality: Rocking

    May 16, 2018  |  By Marta Cecchetto

    Aloha Tower (center) in Honolulu saying goodbye. It used to be the highest tower visible from the sea, welcoming new ships and giving its regards to the sailing ships. Now, it is surrounded by much higher skyscrapers.

    It’s now been a couple of days since we left Honolulu and set sail. The first thing I noticed when we left port was the constant and never ending rocking of the ship.

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  • Out at Sea at Last!

    May 14, 2018  |  By Dr. Craig Smith

    Marta and Annabell assembling one of the landers.

    After many months of preparation, we have finally embarked on the main research cruise for the DeepCCZ project, heading to the equatorial Pacific.

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