Edition 1496
13 October 2018
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Newly found Azores hydrothermal field to be studied with help of robot

in News · 04-08-2018 13:17:00 · 0 Comments

A hydrothermal field in the Azores that was discovered last June is to be the object of further study by a joint Portuguese-French scientific expedition, aided by an underwater robot, Portugal’s Oceano Azul (Blue Ocean) Foundation announced on Friday.



Newly found Azores hydrothermal field to be studied with help of robot

In June, an expedition organised by the foundation discovered at a depth of 570m, on the underwater mountain Gigante some 60 miles from the island of Faial, a new hydrothermal field (dubbed Luso), which is the least deep of all eight known fields in the Azores archipelago.

The expedition was undertaken in partnership with the Waitt Foundation (founded to protect the oceans) and the National Geographic Pristine Seas project (whose aim is to safeguard intact areas of ocean) and in collaboration with Portugal’s navy through the Hydrographic Institute, the Azores regional government and the government mission that is seeking to extend the country’s internationally recognised continental shelf.

Now the foundation has returned to the Luso field, together with French scientists from TRANSECT, a scientific cruise ship attached to the University of the Sorbonne and the National Centre for Scientific Research, with a view to better understand restrictions on biomass formation in thermal ecosystems.

The study, the foundation said in a statement, is to be carried out with the aid of an underwater robot (ROV) and is intended to describe in detail the field and surrounding area, as well as gathering information about temperature, pH of the water, metals and gases. Geological and biological samples will be collected from the springs and a photographic record will be made.

The foundation statement notes that most hydrothermal fields of the Azores are located in "border areas of divergent tectonic plaques, as is the case of the Mid-Atlantic ridge separating the Western Group from the Central group of the Azores archipelago, precisely where the underwater mountain Gigante is found." There are now nine known such fields, including Luso.

The hydrothermal fields - places where hot water comes up from the Earth’s interior - are areas of great biological and mineral richness. They are, according to the foundation, "true oases hidden in the deep ocean, which are usually found kilometres down and hundreds of miles from coastal areas."

The Oceano Azul Foundation was created last year by José Soares dos Santos, president of the Sociedade Francisco Manuel dos Santos, the holding company for the family-owned Pingo Doce food retail group, with the declared of “bringing Portugal back to the sea”.

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Edition 1496
13 October 2018
Edition: 1496

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter

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