Giora Proskurowski, a Project Scientist with the UW RSN Team, prepares a Remote Access Fluid Sampler (front) and microbial DNA sampler for installation in a diffuse flow site at the vent called 'El Gordo' in the International District hydrothermal field. The instrument is designed by Dr. David Butterfiled and NOAA-PMEL and the UW. Image Credit: Mitch Elend, University of Washington; V14.
Some of the most profound discoveries in marine research will be made in understanding the linkages among microbes that thrive beneath the seafloor and in vent fluids associated with active submarine volcanoes. To make progress in this research requires in situ measurements of fluid chemistry and temperature, and the ability to take co-registered samples of microbial DNA for follow-on shore-based analyes that allow identification of the organisms and information about their novel metabolisms.
The RAS (Remote Access Sampler) allows time-series temperature measurement in real-time and in situ sampling of hydrothermal vent fluids, while the PPS (Phytoplankton Sampler) allows filtering and preservation of microbial DNA. This coupled system, developed by D. Butterfield at NOAA-PMEL, is now installed in the International District Hydrothermal Vent Field and cabled to the Primary Infrastructure. Because it is cabled, which allows two-way communication and power, the sample bottles can be triggered from shore in response to volcanic or tectonic events.