Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists to explore the ’Grand Canyon’ of the oceans


The deepest, darkest, most inhospitable place on Earth is the focus of a new £2 million research project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The ECOMAR project will explore the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a mountain range about the size of the Alps, located deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean. The research will be mainly concentrated around the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone, a giant canyon hundreds of miles long and about 20 miles wide, that cuts through the mountain range and connects the two halves of the ocean.

Led by Professor Monty Priede, Director of Oceanlab at the University of Aberdeen, the consortium of researchers aims to determine the local, regional and global ecological impact of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge as a physical structure. It will provide a comprehensive overview of how all forms of life interact and function in this environment. The researchers’ findings will feed into a global Census of Marine Life project.

Professor Priede said, "We are all very excited about ECOMAR. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a difficult place to carry out research of this nature, which is why there is so little known about it at present. One of the things we want to find out is what types of marine animals live on the two sides of the Ridge and how they are related. This should help us to ascertain if the mountain range acts as a barrier."

They will also examine the variety and spread of species in the sub-polar front, the boundary between cold, fertile surface waters to the north of the gulf stream (which flows above the Charlie Gibbs Facture Zone) and the less productive warm water to the south. As well as investigating marine life, the researchers will be measuring the circulation of ocean currents and the extent of food, nutrients and carbon carried to the sea floor in ’marine snow’ -the remains of dead plankton - and the carcasses of whales and fish.

Other areas of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge have been studied before, when swarms of deep-sea creatures were discovered thriving in the hot, toxic waters surrounding hydrothermal vents (underwater volcanoes that spew out plumes of sulphurous black smoke).

Said Professor Priede, "Scientists have been so excited by hydrothermal vents that the ecology in other areas of the Ridge has been neglected. We don’t know what we’ll find down there but we intend to address that neglect and fill in some of the knowledge gaps."

The researchers will be aided in their quest by the use of advanced technology and equipment, including unmanned robotic vehicles, remote sensing from satellites and precise acoustic techniques. They will be sailing aboard the new Royal Research Ship James Cook as it embarks on one of its first research voyages.

Marion O’Sullivan, | NERC-Press Office
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>