RV Belgica cruise ST0914: 6 May – 8 June 2009

RV Belgica cruise ST0914: 6 May – 8 June 2009

 

About the cruise

The R/V Belgica “GENESIS” cruise is a joint oceanographic campaign of Ghent University’s Renard Centre of Marine Geology and the Marion Biology section. Within three legs, the Belgica will make a round trip from its home base Zeebrugge with port calls in Cádiz (15-18 May) and Vigo (27-30 May). Mainly two study area will be visited; the continental slope NW of Cabo Ortegal (Spain) and the mud volcanoes and deep-water coral mounds in the Gulf of Cadiz. During this multidisciplinary campaign, a wide range of oceanographic tools will be used such as multibeam bathymetry (EM1002), seismic profiling, CTD casts, multicoring, boxcoring and ROV Genesis observations.
Leg 1 (14a) "Ortegal": 5-15 May, Zeebrugge (B) – Cadiz (ES), chief scientist: Dr. David Van Rooij
Leg 2 (14b) : 18-27 May, Cadiz (ES) – Vigo (ES), chief scientist: Prof. Dr. Jean-Pierre Henriet
Leg 3 (14c) "Galicia": 30 May – 8 June, Vigo (ES) – Zeebrugge (B), chief scientist: Prof. Dr. Ann Vanreusel


Leg 1 of the cruise

The Belgica 14a GENESIS 1 “Ortegal” cruise will focus, as first one in a series of 3 cruises, on the “Massif Galicien de l’Ouest”, located near the “Cabo Ortegal” in the southern part of the Bay of Biscay (see maps below). Within the framework of the HERMIONE project and the CONTOURIBER project, these suspected deep-water coral hotspots, first described by Le Danois in 1948, will be surveyed using multibeam bathymetry and high resolution seismic profiling. The study area, located in water depths between 500 and 1500 m is characterized by a vigorously flowing Mediterranean Outflow Water (MOW), which can be observed throughout the sedimentary history in seismic profiles. The hydro- and sediment dynamics of the study area will be studied with respect to their role in steering the present ecosystems. Based on this site survey, ROV Genesis will deploy a lander experiment at the end of Leg 2 (14b) within the surveyed zone. Furthermore, ROV Genesis will be deployed to focus on the detailed visual mapping and sampling of selected sites during Leg 3 (14c).

belgica0914_map1

Above left: Study area of Leg 14a and Leg 14c: The continental slope NW of La Coruna (Spain) between 300 and 1500 m water depth. Above right: Map of the “Massif Galicien de l’Ouest”, published by Le Danois in 1948.

This first leg will focus on the following objectives within the study area:
1. High-resolution single channel sparker seismic profiling: investigation of the stratigraphic framework and the sedimentary environment. The locations of the seismic profiles are based on very high resolution PARASOUND profiles, acquired by the Spanish R/V Sarmiento de Gamboa in 2008. A more detailed network will be determined during this leg, to be executed during campaign 14c.
2. Multibeam bathymetry: using the shipboard EM1002 multibeam bathymetry echosounder, in order to characterize sedimentary features and possible cold-water coral mounds within the study area. Also backscatter imagery will be used for this purpose.
3. Hydrography: 2 CTD casts are planned on respectively 1500 and 500 m water depth in order to provide more insight in seasonality of the local hydrography.
This predominantly geophysical campaign will be executed in cooperation with the University of Vigo, the geological survey of Spain (IGME, Madrid) and the CMIMA-CSIC at Barcelona.

Read the blogs from this leg of the cruise:
> Blog 1: 6-8 May 2009
> Blog 2: 9-12 May 2009
> Blog 3: 13-15 May 2009


Leg 2 of the cruise

The cold-water coral carbonate mounds in the El Arraiche mud volcano field on the Moroccan continental margin were discovered by the RCMG during the R/V Belgica CADIPOR cruise in 2002. Since then, a lot of data has been obtained in that region, resulting in an IODP proposal (673-Full) for drilling the coral mounds on Pen Duick Escarpment. Within the framework of the ESF MiCROSYSTEMS, ESF CHEMECO and EC-FP7 HERMIONE projects, these study area will be surveyed using high resolution reflection seismic in order to obtain a stratigraphic framework and the ROV ‘Genesis’ will be deployed to carry out detailed mapping. Also the hydrography and sediment dynamics of the area will be studied with respect to the steering of the present ecosystems.
This leg of the cruise will focus on the following objectives within the study area:
1. High-resolution seismic profiling: investigation of the stratigraphic framework and the sedimentary environment.
2. ROV operations: visual observations of deep-water ecosystems for habitat and environmental mapping.
3. Seabed sampling: boxcore sampling of the ROV-investigated sites.
The cruise will be executed in cooperation with the University of Aveiro (Portugal), the Laval University (Quebec, Canada) and the University of Geneva (Switzerland).

belgica0914_map2

Left - Study area of Leg 14b: The southern Gulf of Cadiz in water depth between 300 and 1500 m; the Pen Duick Escarpment mounds (blue star) and the Mekness, Darwin and Mercator Mud Volcanoes (red star)

Read the blogs from this leg of the cruise:
> Blog 4: 18-19 May 2009
> Blog 5: 20-26 May 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Leg 3 of the cruise

Genesis 3 “Galicia” is carried out in the framework of the European projects BIOFUN-EURODEEP (2008-2010) and HERMIONE (2009-2011). This cruise will focus, as the last one in a series of 3 campaigns, on the region of the "Massif Galicien de l'Ouest" located near the "Cabo Ortegal" in the most southern part of the Bay of Biscay(see map shown for Leg 1). In the "Massif Galicien de l'Ouest" suspected deep-water coral hotspots are present, earlier described by Le Danois in 1948. This area will be surveyed in the first cruise using multibeam bathymetry and high resolution seismic profiling. Based on this site survey, ROV Genesis will deploy a lander experiment at the end of Leg 2 (14b) within the survey zone. Furthermore, the location of the sites that will be sampled during leg 3 (14c) will be dependent on the results gathered in Leg 1 (14a). In addition to biological sampling and ROV-born experiments, also seismic surveying (in order to obtain detailed visual maps) is planned in this third leg. The campaign will be executed in cooperation with the Spanish USC (University of Santiago de Compostella) and the Dutch UVA (University of Amsterdam).
This leg will focus on the following objectives within the study area:
1. Sediment sampling: Sediment cores will be taken with the multicorer (MUC) or box corer (BC)(in case sampling with the MUC fails) at 700 m and 1200 m water depth at the Iberian margin in order to analyze:

  • The biodiversity of the meiofaunal and nematode community in the framework of the ESF funded BIOFUN project (UGent-MARBIOL).
  • The stable isotope and fatty acid profile of the nematode community in order to get an idea about their diet in the framework of the ESF funded BIOFUN project (UGent-MARBIOL).
  • Environmental variables (pigment concentration, C/N, fatty acids, grain size and organic matter content) which later on can be related to meiofaunal diversity and biomarker signal.

In addition, 10 MUC cores (originating from station 5) will be the subject of an ex situ experiment onboard R/V Belgica. A syringe filled with defaunated sediment will be placed in every core. In this set-up the possible active (lateral) colonization of the defaunated sediment by the local meiofauna community will be investigated. The community structure (genera/species) of the migrated meiofauna will be characterized.
2. BC sampling: box core samples will be taken for sponges associated with cold-water corals. In the framework of the HERMIONE project a phylogeny/phylogeography study is conducted on these sponges from the Mediterranean up to Norway. The aim is to assess the possible connection of coral and associated fauna along the European margin as well as the health of the gene pool of these sponges in different areas.
3. ROV operations: ROV Genesis will be used in visual and acoustic observation and mapping of seafloor ecosystems. During the ROV dives performed in leg 14b a seabed experiment will be deployed (station 2). This will be recovered during leg 14c (duration = 4 days). In this experiment several types of azoic oxygen-poor substrates will be offered to the local benthic community. It will be checked if and by which species the substrates are colonized. The ROV will also be used for sampling of sponges associated with cold-water corals.
4. High-resolution seismic profiling: investigation of the stratigraphic framework and the sedimentary environment. The coordinates of these seismic lines will be determined after the multibeam survey during Leg 1 of the cruise.

Read the blogs from this leg of the cruise:
> Blog 6: 26-31 May 2009


About R/V Belgica

R/V Belgica is an oceanographic research vessel maintained by the Belgian Navy and managed by MUMM, a department of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. More information about the ship can be found at the following websites:
Website MUMM (management): http://www.mumm.ac.be/EN/Monitoring/Belgica/index.php
Current location of Belgica: http://www.mumm.ac.be/EN/Monitoring/Belgica/odas.php