Extensive fields of hydrocarbon-rich gas seepage, mud volcanoes and pockmarks have all been mapped by the EUROCORES programme EUROMARGINS. On 4 - 6 October 2006, scientists from 50 different research groups in 12 different countries came together in Bologna, Italy to discuss future cross-discipline, pan-European and pan-World research following in the footsteps of this four year programme as EUROMARGINS is coming to an end.
Collaboration in the ‘cold’
As ocean sediments compact in cold seeps, fluids ooze out of the sediment and into the water. The cold-seep fluids contain chemical compounds produced by the decomposition of organic materials or by inorganic chemical reactions which occur at high temperatures and pressures.
Near cold seeps in the Eastern Mediterranean, Sébastien Duperron from Université Pierre et Marie Curie in France has found unique bacterial symbiosis with mussels. Symbiotic associations between bivalves (mussels) and bacteria allow the former to benefit from the bacteria’s ability to chemosynthetically (without light) derive energy from the chemical compounds produced and use this energy to ensure primary production.
“In the bivalve species Idas sp., we have found an association with six different symbionts. This is the widest diversity of symbionts ever described in a bivalve species,” said Duperron.
This means that the mussel, depending on which type of symbionts it carries, can derive its energy from either sulphide or methane. In addition, Duperron has also found that in the Idas sp., three of the symbionts belong to bacterial groups previously not reported to include symbiotic bacteria. They seem to provide their hosts with nutrient from a yet unidentified source.
But life in these alien environments can also exist without symbionts as Ian MacDonald from Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi US has demonstrated. His observations of the fauna around coastal margin hydrocarbon seeps in the Gulf of Mexico have revealed a habitat rich in biological activity and without a need for symbionts to extract nutrients.
MacDonald found that the productivity of deep-water seeps is overwhelmingly based on chemosynthesis (deriving energy from chemical compounds instead of light) and also some chemoautotrophic symbiosis (using a symbiont to derive energy from chemical compounds). However some communities of deep-sea corals associated with many seeps are probably filter feeders. Recent research findings indicate that the corals around the seeps may be much more widespread at seeps than previously realised. This fact adds to the biological diversity and ecological complexity of seep communities.
Underwater mud volcanoes
In the Nile deep-sea fan, mud volcanoes were discovered in the mid-1990s and they are still being investigated by a EUROMARGINS project. In the Gulf of Cadiz, the first mud volcanoes were discovered in 1999. The deepest mud volcano in this area is located at 3890m.
Luis Pinheiro from the University of Aveiro in Portugal participated in the 1999 cruise when mud volcanoes were first discovered. Pinheiro and his team have been investigating this area in close collaboration with Spain, France and Belgium. So far they have mapped 40 mud volcanoes, some as big as over 4km across and a few hundred meters high supporting characteristic ecosystems with particular faunal communities, living directly or indirectly on methane, some of which appear to represent completely new species to science.
Over four years, the EUROMARGINS have gatherered about 75 teams from 12 countries on a variety of complementary topics dedicated to the imaging, monitoring, reconstruction and modelling of the physical and chemical processes that occur in the passive margin system. Further information is available at www.esf.org/euromargins or by contacting email@example.com. When it comes to an end in late 2007, EUROMARGINS will be succeeded by new EUROCORES Programmes such as EuroMARC and Topo-Europe, which will both contribute to the future of European geosciences.
Sofia Valleley | alfa
GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast
01.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Cyclic change within magma reservoirs significantly affects the explosivity of volcanic eruptions
30.11.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy