First science meeting…

…where we discussed the detailed objectives for the cruise. The first objective is really exciting stuff – to demonstrate that microbes, living microbes, are present below the seafloor, determine what organisms they are, and how they make a living in the dark sub-seafloor environment! This is an ambitious goal. It’s never been done and it might not work. In addition to good science, we need a bit of luck to get the right samples from the right locations in order to even find the microbes.

Our secondary objectives (it’s always good to have secondary objectives when you are engaged in a high-risk project) are: to evaluate the lateral extent of hydrothermal fluid flow, the formation and distribution of sulfide minerals, and the extent of liquid/vapor phase-separation on pore fluid geochemistry in the region. These secondary objectives are perhaps not as glamorous, but they are somewhat more obtainable. We will learn a lot about how sub-seafloor circulation influences the chemistry and geology of these hydrothermal systems and provides the chemical energy for ecosystems below the seafloor and at hydrothermal vents.