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kemp with camper

A happy CAMPER

WHOI engineer John Kemp sends the tethered vehicle CAMPER off on its final mission of the second Polar Discovery expedition. CAMPER was specially built to allow scientists to image and sample the seafloor as the icebreaker drifted through the ice pack. The research team, including WHOI geochemist Susan Humphris and biologist Tim Shank, searched for hydrothermal vents on the Gakkel Ridge, a line of mountains at the bottom of the sea where two tectonic plates are very slowly spreading apart. The scientists identified potential vent sites using temperature and chemical sensors on an autonomous underwater vehicle, then deployed CAMPER (= camera/sampler) to the nearby seafloor. Although the team did not find hydrothermal vents, CAMPER brought back images and samples of yellow-orange material covering the seafloor rocks. Studies have shown that the material consists of a stew of microbes that receive nutrients from fluids circulating through the oceanic crust.

(Photo by Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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