The Diffuse Vent Fluid 3-D Temperature Array, developed by UW Project Scientist Giora Proskurowski, is designed as 4 stacked triangular arrays with 24 independent temperature measurement points, providing a three-dimensional distribution of temperature flow across the seafloor. Temperatures are collected every 5 seconds from a diffuse flow site near the base of an active black smoker chimney called “Mushroom” in the ASHES hydrothermal field on Axial Volcano. Other installations at this site include an osmotic sampler, to determine the temporal evolution of fluids, and a high-definition video camera, to study fluid velocities and the evolution of animal and microbial communities within the context of evolving environmental conditions.
Moderate- to low-temperature, nutrient-rich hydrothermal fluids exiting diffuse flow sites on Axial Volcano support communities of novel microbes and animals, including limpets, tubeworms, scale worms, clams, and Pycnogonida, arthropods that resemble spiders. Fluid temperatures, flow rates, and chemistry may be impacted by lunar tides, earthquakes, eruptions, and other geological events that cause changes in the subseafloor plumbing. Long-term measurements of fluid temperature and chemistry, coupled with direct imagery, are critical to understanding how these communities thrive, evolve, and expire.