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Irish Marine Scientists Discover 'Smoking Vents' on Mid-Atlantic Ridge

24th October 2012
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Irish Marine Scientists Discover 'Smoking Vents' on Mid-Atlantic Ridge

#UCC – Irish research which led to the discovery of smoking vents on the mid Atlantic Ridge will feature in a National Geographic programme to be broadcast next Sunday, 28 October.

National Geographic has produced a five part series, The Alien Deep, which takes viewers into underwater worlds where no human has gone before.

The programme will be broadcast this Sunday 28th October at 6pm on National Geographic channel on Sky (channel 526) and also UPC (channel 215). The programme presenter is Dr Robert Ballard, famed explorer who found the Titanic at its final resting place.

The series takes viewers into an underwater world 3,000m deep, where, on the slopes of the Mid-Ocean ridges that divide the earth's tectonic plates, chimney- like formations spew black plumes of superheated water packed with chemicals, minerals and dissolved gases allowing life to thrive against the odds. The leader of the scientific team was Dr Andy Wheeler, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at University College Cork who worked with scientists from the National University of Ireland Galway, Geological Survey of Ireland, the University of Southampton and the National Oceanography Centre in the UK. "It's great to see Ireland's expertise recognised on TV", says Dr Wheeler. "Discovering a new volcanic landscape three km below was a thrill."

The scientists were on board the Irish National Research Vessel, Celtic Explorer and used the Remotely Operated Vehicle Holland 1 for their explorations of the deep and was supported by the Marine Institute under the 2011 Ship-Time Programme of the National Development Plan.

The team named the previously uncharted field of hydrothermal vents along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the first to be explored north of the Azores, the Moytirra Vent Field. Moytirra is the name of a battlefield in Irish mythology, and appropriately means 'Plain of the Pillars'. Patrick Collins from the Ryan Institute, NUI Galway led Ireland's marine biological team on the surve

Published in Marine Science
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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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