Deployment: AT29-04

Chief Scientist: 
Cindy Van Dover (Duke University)
Seep Connectivity
Western Atlantic Margin
Coordinated Deployments: 
Platform Type:
Start Date: 
End Date: 
Blake Ridge Diapir, Cape Fear Diapir, and United States Western Atlantic Margin

Science objectives (from the WHOI Cruise Planning Synopsis):
The primary objective of the SeepC Project is to advance our general knowledge of connectivity in the deep sea using taxa found at seeps as model systems. The focus is on species and processes occurring in the Intra-American Sea (including the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and eastern seaboard of the US), with attention to oceanographic circulation, life histories, and genetics. Questions that apply in shallow-water systems motivate this study:

  1. What phylogeographic breaks occur in the system? It is important to distinguish between phylogeography and connectivity. A phylogeographic break implies a long history of isolation or possibly cryptic speciation, while genetic population structure indicates gene flow is reduced, but still ongoing or recent.
  2. Do collections from different sites indicate a panmictic population of a given species? This is the fundamental question about connectivity and the scale of population genetic variation in marine species with planktonic larvae and it comprises extent of gene flow, directionality, and relative contributions.
  3. What bio-physical processes underlie observed connectivities? Biological processes (e.g., larval distributions in the water column, timing of reproduction, and planktonic larval duration) and physical processes of transport and dispersion interact to determine connectivity.

Our efforts include improving the oceanographic model for the IAS near the seabed using current data from moorings at several depths and locations and coupling this model to a Lagrangian larval transport model. We stress the importance of iterative interactions among the science teams to advance our understanding of connectivity in the deep sea through descriptive and hypothesis-driven research. We will develop effective and best methods for hypothesis testing under the constraints of working in a relatively inaccessible environment and will build capacity in understanding connectivity in deep-sea systems.

Science Activities:

1) Two mooring recoveries;
2) Alvin seep sampling: mussels, clams, tubeworms, and associated animals; targeting at least 30 individuals per species (manips, net, slurp); carbonates;
3) Sentry plankton sampling;
4) MOCNESS tows;
5) Sentry high-resolution mapping;
6) CTD casts;
7) XBTs;
8) Shipboard acoustics (methane plumes).

BCO-DMO Note: Using Alvin dive positions for mapserver until full cruise track becomes available on