NIVA will study hot vents 4000 meters under the Artic ice

The HACON project will provide the first comprehensive study of deep (4000 m) hydrothermal vent ecosystems under ice in the Arctic region. HACON targets a key missing piece of the global vent biogeographic puzzle in a region that remains mostly unexplored because of its remote and climatologically challenging location.

The HACON project officially started November 1st. The project is led by Norwegian institute for water research (NIVA) and funded through The Research Council of Norway’s FRINATEK program.

HACON will investigate the Aurora vent sites, at 4000 m depth under ice (82N), North East of Greenland. From mid-September to mid-October 2019, scientists will have a cruise on the Norwegian icebreaker «Kronprins Haakon» to conduct a full survey and sampling of the vent and seamount ecosystem.

Amongst other equipment, the scientiste are planning to use the Norwegian ROV «Ægir», WHOI’s hybrid ROV/AUV «Nereus Under Ice» (USA) and AWI’s towed bathymetry and camera system OFOBS (Germany). The goal of the project is to unravel the geochemical and physical processes that shape the Aurora biological communities and assess the role played by the Gakkel Ridge in connectivity of chemosynthesis-based ecosystems between ocean basins.

- I am really excited to start the HACON project with an excellent team of national and international partners. We are going to investigate, for the first time, very deep hydrothermal vents under the ice in the Arctic ocean. Only a few images are available from these remote ecosystems, taken during the German cruise that discovered them in 2014 on board «Polarstern», so we are not sure of who lives down there and how the ecosystem functions. We hope to better understand the processes that maintain the vents and their communities in a pristine area that could be subjected to increasing human stressors as ice-cover recedes driven by climate change in the Arctic, says Eva Ramirez-Llodra, senior scientist at NIVA and HACON project leader.

The Norwegian institute for water research (NIVA) is coordinator for the HACON project. National partners include University in Tromsø, University in Bergen and Norwegian institute of marine research. International partners include AWI (Germany), WHOI (USA) and UAVR (Portugal).

Last updated 05.11.2018