Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


NZ, Japanese scientists join forces for voyage of discovery

New Zealand, Japanese scientists join forces for voyage of discovery

A joint Japanese-New Zealand scientific research voyage leaves Tonga this week to explore underwater mountains and volcanoes about 1000 km northeast of New Zealand.


Click for big version.

Scientists from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), GNS Science  (GNS) and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) will be aboard the Japanese research vessel Yokosuka to learn about the ecosystems of the Louisville Seamount Chain and northern Kermadec Arc.

A feature of the voyage will be five dives by the human-operated vehicle Shinkai 6500, one of the world’s most advanced deep diving submarines, capable of going to depths of 6.5km below the ocean surface.

It is the deepest manned submersible for academic research and can accommodate two pilots and a researcher on dives that typically last eight hours each.

NIWA fisheries scientist Dr Malcolm Clark said the Louisville Seamount Chain is one of the longest in the world, stretching about 4300km from the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge north-west to the Tonga-Kermadec Trench where it is thrust under the Australasian plate. The seamounts can rise up to 4000m from the seafloor – higher than Aoraki-Mt Cook.

The dives by the Shinkai 6500 will be the first detailed biological investigation of the area. Dr Clark, who is taking part in the voyage and will be aboard the Shinkai 6500 for one of its dives, said they expect to find species that have not previously been seen.

“You never know what to expect in the deep sea, animal life on the seamounts could be sparse, or there could be rich diversity and abundant new communities. There is a strong element of discovery about the trip, as we will be diving in unknown areas and to greater depths than most research activities around New Zealand.”

The scientists will also look at the role seamounts can play in the distribution of life in the deep sea. Dr Clark said it is thought that some animals use the seamounts as “stepping stones” across the ocean by establishing communities on one before moving to the next. The team also wants to determine whether the seamounts, as they are dragged deeper and deeper into the trench, sustain communities that normally would only exist in shallower waters.

Dr Clark said the Louisville Chain also supports extensive trawl fisheries for orange roughy. Previous scientific modelling has predicted corals and other sensitive habitats may occur on the seamounts, and so more information is needed on their biology to establish if they are vulnerable to fishing operations.

The other focus of the expedition will be two dives on volcanoes along the northern part of the Kermadec Arc, which extends from White Island up towards Tonga. The scientists will dive on hydrothermal systems (seafloor hotsprings) known to exist on two of these volcanoes to sample the hot water being discharged from chimneys, or vents on the seafloor, together with any mineralization and animals.

GNS principal scientist Dr Cornel de Ronde said: "These hydrothermal systems are likely to host significant minerals deposits, in keeping with those discovered in the southern part of the Kermadec Arc. Confirmation of their existence will have strategic importance for New Zealand considering the number of volcanoes along the  1300km length of Kermadec Arc that sits within New Zealand’s territorial waters.”

Habitats located at these vent sites often host unique animals adapted to survive in extreme temperature and chemical conditions that are hostile to most life forms.

Dr Clark said he and the New Zealand science team were excited to be working with JAMSTEC on this collaborative project that brings together experts from both countries and further develops long-term cooperation in science, technology and innovation.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

R18: The Warehouse Group Praised For Removing Games

The decision by New Zealand’s largest retailer The Warehouse Group (TW Group), to withdraw stocks of the latest version of Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) and other R18 games, has been praised by advocacy group Stop Demand Foundation. More>>

ALSO:

Air NZ Wine Awards: Victory For Villa Maria As Pinot Noir Thrills

It was a night to remember as Villa Maria Estate picked up one of the highest accolades of the evening, the O-I New Zealand Reserve Wine of the Show Trophy, at the 28th Air New Zealand Wine Awards. The Villa Maria Single Vineyard Southern Clays Marlborough ... More>>

ALSO:

Future Brighter Money: RBNZ Releases New Bank Note Designs

New Zealand’s banknotes are getting brighter and better, with the Reserve Bank today unveiling more vibrant and secure banknote designs which will progressively enter circulation later next year. More>>

ALSO:

Commerce: Supermarket Inquiry Finds No Breaches By Countdown

The Commerce Commission inquiry into anti-competitive behaviour by Countdown supermarkets, alleged by former Labour Party MP Shane Jones, has found nothing to warrant prosecution, although it warns supermarkets to take care in the way they communicate... More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: English Flags ‘Challenge’ To Budget Surplus

Finance Minister Bill English is warning next month’s half yearly fiscal and economic update from the Treasury may not forecast a budget surplus, saying that returning the government’s accounts to surplus in 2015 will be “a challenge”, given the decline in commodity prices and weak global inflation. More>>

ALSO:

March 2015: Netflix To Launch In Australia And New Zealand

World’s Leading Internet Television Network to Offer Original Series, Movies, Documentaries, Stand-Up Comedy Specials and TV Shows for Low Monthly Price More>>

ALSO:

Price Of Cheese (Is Up): Dairy Product Prices Fall To Five-Year Low

Dairy product prices fell in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction to the lowest level in more than five years, led by declines in rennet casein and skim milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news