11 Jun 2018

Marine Scientists explore the Mid-Atlantic ridge and discover a spectacular mountain range

A multi-national team of ocean exploration experts led by Dr Aggie Georgiopoulou, University College Dublin, returned to Galway on World Ocean Day (8th June 2018) after spending three and half weeks exploring and mapping the tectonic spreading at the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge on the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer.

Using the remotely operated vehicle Holland I, “we collected spectacular film footage of sponge gardens and even a skate nursery at 2000m under the sea.  The discovery of more than 70 skate eggs were found, which is a first for the deep-sea”.

Up to 150 rock and sediment samples amounting to roughly 200kg along with 86 hrs of video footage and over 10,000km2 of the Zone were also mapped, which is almost the size of County Galway and Co Mayo together,” explained Chief Scientist Dr Aggie Georgiopoulou.  

The Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone was mapped for the first time in 2015 on the RV Celtic Explorer as one of the key projects launched by the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, following the signing of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation between Canada, the EU and the US in May 2013.

Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute congratulated the team on their recent discoveries, stating "that deep ocean expeditions cannot be taken for granted as we need to better understand the features that make up the ocean seabed. With the ocean affecting climate change, global population and seafood demand, we need to map our seabed to define favorable habitats for fishing, key sites for conservation, and safe navigation for shipping”.

The expedition supported by AORA also reflects the value and essential role of international partnerships, particularly with achieving the shared goals of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation 2013, which include our ongoing cooperation on ocean science and observation in the Atlantic Ocean."

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