Nov. 19: Alvin dive 4993

Today’s Alvin dive will visit Mat Mound Massif, a complicated undersea mountain landscape with mats clinging to steep rock faces and talus slopes, hanging gardens of Riftia, and some really hot water. Pilot Anthony Tarantino will drive the Alvin, and sample microbial mats picked out by the watchful eyes of the scientific observers, Gunter Wegener and Cedric Hahn, both of the Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany.


An interesting feature in microbial mats are the “craters”: areas in the center where a hole seems to have been blown into the mat, as if a jet of hydrothermal fluid has blasted the center of the mat and left only scattered bits and white sulfur dust, as seen below. The Mat Mound Massif has many examples. The mat-forming bacteria dance on the volcano, and that carries some inherent risks…Nov19Matsflat

Not everything is microbial; this octopus lingers long enough to have his picture taken. How these animals – and others – make a living under the oxygen-depleted conditions of Guaymas Basin is still an open question; the bottom water here has oxygen concentrations of only 10-15% surface saturation.






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