Deep on the ocean’s floor, there exist lakes of salty brine, formed from salt seeping out from deposits underlying the seafloor, saturating pools to such an extent that they refuse to mix with the surrounding water. The salinity of these pools is so great that they are toxic to most sea life, but certain highly adapted chemosynthetic organisms that have found ways to survive and even thrive on the shores of these undersea lakes.
This cruise continues our exploration throughout the Gulf of Mexico region, investigating biologic, geologic, and archaeological sites. We will explore and characterize a variety of seafloor habitats across upper slope, mid-slope and lower slope depths, including hard substrate coral habitats, hydrocarbon seeps, brine pools and, time permitting, mud volcanoes. The overarching goal of this cruise is the exploration of biological communities and associated geochemical and isotopic records of carbon cycling.