Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Lost World' Beneath Caribbean To Be Explored

Date:
September 1, 2008
Source:
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
Summary:
Scientists are set to explore the world's deepest undersea volcanoes and find out what lives in a 'lost world' five kilometres beneath the Caribbean.

Scientists at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, are set to explore the world's deepest undersea volcanoes and find out what lives in a 'lost world' five kilometres beneath the Caribbean.

Scientists at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, are set to explore the world's deepest undersea volcanoes and find out what lives in a 'lost world' five kilometres beneath the Caribbean.

Related Articles


The team of researchers led by Dr Jon Copley has been awarded 462,000 by the Natural Environment Research Council to explore the Cayman Trough, which lies between Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. This rift in the Caribbean seafloor plunges to a depth of more than 5000 metres below sea level. It contains the world's deepest chain of undersea volcanoes, which have yet to be explored.

The researchers are planning two expeditions over the next three years using the UK's newest research ship, RRS James Cook. From the ship, the team will send the UK's remotely-operated vehicle Isis and a new British robot submarine called Autosub6000 into the abyss.

The team will look for new geological features and new species of marine life in the rift on the seafloor. Geologist Dr Bramley Murton will use a whale-friendly sonar system to map the undersea volcanoes in unprecedented detail to understand their formation. At the same time, oceanographer Dr Kate Stansfield will study the deep ocean currents in the Cayman Trough for the first time and geochemist Dr Doug Connelly will hunt for volcanic vents on the ocean floor. These volcanic vents are home to exotic deep-sea creatures that will be studied by marine biologists Dr Jon Copley and Professor Paul Tyler.

"The Cayman Trough may be a 'lost world' that will give us the missing piece in a global puzzle of deep-sea life," says Dr Copley, a lecturer with the University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science. Volcanic vents in the Atlantic are home to swarms of blind shrimp and beds of unusual mussels. But similar deep-sea vents in the eastern Pacific are inhabited by bizarre metre-long tubeworms. The researchers hope to find out whether creatures living in the Cayman Trough are related to those in the Pacific or the Atlantic – or completely different to both.

Before North and South America joined three million years ago, there was a deep water passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic. This means that the undersea volcanoes of the Cayman Trough could harbour a 'missing link' between deep-sea life in the two oceans. Finding out just what lives in the rift will help scientists understand patterns of marine life around the world.

"The deep ocean is the largest ecosystem on our planet, so we need to understand its patterns of life," says Dr Copley. "Deep-sea exploration has also given us new cancer treatments and better fibre-optic cables for the internet, both thanks to deep-sea creatures."

Working at depths of more than five kilometres will take the UK's deep-diving vehicles close to their limits. Isis is the UK’s deepest diving remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) reaching depths of 6,500 metres. The team will control Isis from their research ship to film the ocean floor and collect samples with its robotic arms.

Autosub6000, a new unmanned undersea vehicle built in Southampton, can dive to 6000 metres deep. Autosub6000 is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) – a robot submarine that can carry out missions on its own, without being remote-controlled. The team will launch Autosub6000 from their ship to survey the area and hunt for volcanic vents on the ocean floor.

"These undersea volcanoes lie within British seabed territory recognised by the United Nations," says Dr Copley. "We now have the technology to explore them." The public will be able to follow the progress of the expeditions through web pages updated from the ship. The team will also invite a school teacher to join them and share the scientific adventure with classrooms around the world.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. "'Lost World' Beneath Caribbean To Be Explored." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080830211000.htm>.
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. (2008, September 1). 'Lost World' Beneath Caribbean To Be Explored. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080830211000.htm
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. "'Lost World' Beneath Caribbean To Be Explored." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080830211000.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A 20-year-old competition surfer said on Thursday he accidentally stepped on a shark's head before it bit him off the Australian east coast. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) The Ebola epidemic has seen Senegal and Guinea Bissau close its borders with Guinea and the economic consequences have started to be felt, especially in Fouta Djallon, where the renowned potato industry has been hit hard. Duration: 02:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 30, 2014) Just in time for Halloween, a glowing flower goes on display in Tokyo. Instead of sorcery and magic, its creators used science to genetically modify the flower, adding a naturally fluorescent plankton protein to its genetic mix. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins