Feathery blue cilliates thrive in a diffuse flow site at the base of the hydrothermal chimney "Escargot" in the International District hydrothermal field. Also visible in the background are limpets and snails and a red scale worm.
During ROPOS Dive R1729, a digital-still camera (left), a mass spectrometer (middle) and a fluid- and microbial-DNA sampler (right) were installed in the International District Hydrothermal Field at the vent called El Gordo. A titanium "hat" rests on top of the structure in a tubeworm and limpet patch. Inside the "hat" are temperature probes and intake nozzles for the fluid and DNA sampler. Photo credit: NSF-OOI/UW/CSSF; Dive R1729; V14.
Only very rarely has there ever been long-term (~1-year) imagery taken of methane seep and hydrothermal vent sites, yet the information digital stills provide is crucial to understanding how these venting systems evolve and their linkages to biology. There is little information about how bacterial and clam communities at methane seeps change over time, or how animal communites at vent sites change at temporal scales of minutes, hours, and days.
In 2014 a high-definition digital still camera was installed at the Endurance Offshore 585-m site to study benthic organisms and those swimming by within the water columnn; another was installed at a diffuse flow site in the International District hydrothermal field within Axial Volcano's caldera (Site MJ03C). At MJ03C, there is also a vent fluid samplers, a DNA sampler, and mass spectrometer that allows, for the first time, time-series measurements of fluid, temperature, and chemistry correlated to video imagery of changing animal and environmental conditions. The camera can take a high-definition still image every 1 second! Another camera is installed at the active methane seep site called 'Einstein's Grott" at Southern Hydrate Ridge.