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ROV-based Geological and Biological Investigations of Methane Seeps at Prins Karls Forland, Storfjordrenna Pingos and Bjørnøyrenna Craters aboard R/V Helmer Hanssen

Chief Scientist: Michael Carrol



The cruise was an activity in of the Centre of Excellence for Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) at UiT – The Arctic University of Norway.

The overall aim of the cruise was to utilize the NTNU/AMOS SK30k ROV for seafloor mapping and targeted sample collection at selected CAGE sites, focusing on methane seepage areas west and south of Svalbard.

More specific objectives of the cruise were to:

  • Use an ROV-mounted multibeam system to acquire very high resolution (10cm) seabed bathymetry in areas of methane seeps
  • Conduct detailed visual seabed surveys for habitat mapping and photomosaicking at specific seep features
  • Collect seabed samples of authigenic carbontate crusts, sediments, microbes, foraminifera and macro organisms associated with methane seeps from the ROV, and complimented with more traditional sampling methods
  • Continue time series investigations of water column measurements of methane concentrations, and of methane oxidizing microbes in the seawater
  • Net sampling for planktic forams at seeps

Sampling activities were designed with a multi-disciplinary approach, with research groups from all CAGE work packages working together in the same locations to develop a holistic understanding of the geological, oceanographic and biological components at key methane seep sites. This cruise prioritized the acquisition of information for mapping seabed features and habitat characterizations (e.g. photomosaicking, visual information) combined with in-situ site sampling using ROV technologies, and complimented by our ‘traditional’ technologies (e.g. CTD, net, and coring devices).

With these objectives in mind, the strategy for each of the selected locations is to first carry out visual survey work to acquire framework measurements and data to be of use for all groups within CAGE, followed by a consolidated sampling plan to satisfy the needs of individual researchers for sample material.