Shallow Hydrothermal Sources of Trace Elements: Potential Impacts on Biological Productivity and the Biological Carbon Pump

Project Acronym: TONGA

Topics: Underwater, Marine, Expedition, Environement

Disciplinary Fields: Biology, Elemental Chemistry, Geochemistry, Physical Oceanography

Summary: The TONGA project aims to study the impact of shallow underwater volcanoes on biological activity in the surface ocean. These volcanoes emit hydrothermal fluids that are rich in trace elements, nutrients or toxins, and most certainly have a decisive impact on surface biological communities and the ocean’s ability to trap CO2. The project began in November 2019 with an oceanographic expedition aboard the Oceanographic Vessel Atalante.
The scientific team’s challenge is to locate shallow active volcanoes and study them in detail in order to elucidate the role of emitted hydrothermal fluids in fertilizing the surface ocean with iron, a micronutrient essential for life. This mechanism could explain the plankton blooms observed during the austral summer over a region stretching from Australia to the Tonga Arc.

Project Interlocutor: Sophie Bonnet (MIO, UMR 7294)

International Cooperation: This large project brings together more than 90 scientists from 14 French research units based in metropolitan France or New Caledonia and 6 foreign universities located in the United States, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, the United Kingdom and Israel.

Project Duration: 01/11/2019 – 12/31/2021

Call of Proposal: International 2018

Website: tonga-project

Photography Credits: Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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