For the first time scientists from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), the University of Southern Denmark, the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), the HGF-MPG Joint Research Group on Deep-Sea Ecology and Technology from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (MPI Bremen, Germany), and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI Bremerhaven, Germany) successfully collected data directly at the bottom of the Mariana Trench located 2000 km East of the Philippines, in a depth of 11000 meters.
A sophisticated deep-diving autonomous lander has carried out a series of descents to the seafloor of the Challenger Deep, a canyon 10.9 km beneath the ocean surface. Here it performed detailed investigations of microbial processes occurring in the sediment. Such detailed science has never been carried out at these extreme depths. The work was carried out during an expedition with the Japanese research vessel Yokosuka (Cruise YK 10-16), with Prof. Hiroshi Kitazato (JAMSTEC) acting as cruise leader.
To better understand the global carbon cycle it is critical to know what role the oceans play in carbon sequestration. Deep ocean trenches make up only 2% of the seafloor but may be disproportionately important as a trap for carbon. The aim of this research was to measure the rate by which organic carbon is degraded at these extreme depths and to estimate from collected sediment samples how much organic carbon is retained in the trenches. The fraction of carbon retained versus degraded in the seabed is crucial to understand the marine carbon cycle and hence the climate of our planet.
The pressure at these great depths is extreme, so to investigate microbial processes in samples from such depths can be very difficult – bringing the organisms to the surface can radically affect them. Therefore scientists around Prof. R.N. Glud (SAMS and SDU) and Dr. F. Wenzhöfer (MPI and AWI) developed an instrument capable of performing the measurements directly on the seafloor at this great depth. Specially constructed sensors probed the sediment in small grids and mapped out the distribution of oxygen in the seabed, providing key insight into the rate at which organic carbon is degraded. To get the “robot” to operate at 10.9km depth was a great challenge. Equipment designed by the team was specially engineered for the mission to function at pressures in excess of 1000 atmospheres. The deployed deep-sea system was a joint effort of Japanese, Scottish, Danish and German scientists. During the cruise the scientist succeeded in performing detailed mapping of microbial activity using highly sophisticated, movable instrumentation and microsensor arrays.
Preliminary data from the measurements came as a surprise, as they reveal that the turnover of carbon is much greater at the bottom of the Trench than on the Abyssal plain (6000 metres down). This demonstrates that the seabed in the trenches acts as a trap for organic material and may therefore have high rates of carbon retention. Analyses will be carried out on recovered samples by the research team and they will reveal the rate at which sediment is accumulating at the bottom of the trench. The expedition is a good example of international teamwork. There was a great sense of achievement to study and bring back data from the deepest part of the ocean. Now the researchers expect that this information will help to answer some very important questions regarding carbon mineralisation and sequestration in the ocean trenches.
Dr. Manfred Schloesser | Max-Planck-Institut
In times of climate change: What a lake’s colour can tell about its condition
21.09.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
Did marine sponges trigger the ‘Cambrian explosion’ through ‘ecosystem engineering’?
21.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.09.2017 | Trade Fair News
25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy