The first biological sampling cruise of the ABYSSLINE program, AB01, took place aboard the R/V Melville (MV1313) from October 3, 2013 – October 27, 2013. The primary ABYSSLINE objective of AB01 was to evaluate biological and environmental baseline conditions in the first targeted a 30x30 km stratum, located in the northern portion of the UK-1 Claim Area, centred approximately at 13º49 N, 116°36 W, in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone. Sampling depths were 3900-4500m. To accomplish our goals, we collected samples and data at and around 12 stations randomly located within this stratum. Biological, geological, and oceanographic data were collected using a suite of scientific sampling equipment including: a box corer, megacorer, respirometer lander, baited trap, baited camera, Brenke epibenthic sled, CTD, sediment trap mooring and 6000-m rated Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). The sediment trap mooring was deployed near the end of the cruise in the centre of the study area. Three wood- and bone-colonisation packages were also deployed during AB01. Shipboard geophysical systems were used to acquire regional-scale bathymetry. Overall, the cruise was very successful in collecting baseline biological and environmental data in the UK-1 Claim Area.
The second biological sampling cruise of the ABYSSLINE program, AB02, took place aboard the R/V Thompson (TN319) from February 12, 2015 – March 25, 2015. The primary ABYSSLINE objective of AB02 was to evaluate biological and environmental baseline conditions in the second targeted 30x30 km stratum, Stratum B) in the UK-1 Claim Area, and in the first targeted 30x30 km stratum (OMS-1 Stratum A) in the OMS-1 Claim Area. UK-1 Stratum B was located in the southwestern portion of the UK-1 Claim Area, and OMS-1 Stratum A was located in the southern portion of the OMS-1 Claim Area. Sampling was very efficient, leaving us with time to undertake some sampling in the Area of Particular Environmental Interest 4 (APEI-4) for two days. This site is located approximately 850 km north of the UK-1 and OMS-1 Claim Areas. We collected samples and data at and around at least 12 stations randomly located within each stratum. Biological, geological, and oceanographic data were collected using all of the equipment listed above for AB01, except the ROV was replaced with an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) REMUS6000 for this cruise. The sediment trap mooring that had been deployed in Stratum A in the UK-1 Claim Area during AB01 was recovered and then redeployed in UK-1 Stratum B. Shipboard geophysical systems were used to acquire regional scale bathymetry. Sampling depths were 3900-4500m.
Pictures from the ABYSSLINE cruises can be seen on Twitter using #ABYSSLINE and #AB02 (https://twitter.com/hashtag/abyssline https://twitter.com/hashtag/ab02)
The blog run by the Natural History Museum, London and Uni Research team during AB01 and AB02: http://3682m.tumblr.com/