2016.06.27 Start of 2nd Research Cruise

The James Cook vessel departed from the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, England to attempt one of its most ambitious expeditions in its ten year history. Heading for the TAG area of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (26°N), the EU-funded Blue Mining project (#BlueMining) will attempt image and drill the sub-surface of extinct hydrothermal massive sulphide deposits. With a cruise duration of 55 days, this is at the edge of the RRS James Cook’s duration. We are following close behind our GEOMAR partner’s Blue Mining expedition on the R/V Meteor (http://www.bluemining.eu/researchcruiseblog/) where they have deployed a robotic autonomous underwater vehicle to map, and near-bottom seismics to image, the hydrothermal mounds. Our expedition (JC138) will use new electromagnetic systems developed under Blue Mining partners GEOMAR and the University of Southampton to create a 3D image of the sub-surface structure.

We will then use a seafloor drilling rig, further developed by our Blue Mining partners, The British Geological Survey, to drill deep beneath the mounds to discover the composition and structure of the mineralisation. The drill rig will be positioned using the robotic underwater vehicle, developed by cruise chief Bramley Murton (#Bramatsea), to locate drilling sites. Fluids collected by the drilling rig will be analysed chemically and for their microbiology. Packers will cork the holes and allow fluids to equilibrate over the next few years where they will be sampled in the future. The cruise funds from June 30th to August 24th.

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