Some of the most profound discoveries in marine research will be made in understanding the linkages among microbes that thrive beneath the seafloor and in vent fluids associated with active submarine volcanoes. To make progress in this research requires in situ measurements of fluid chemistry and temperature, and the ability to take co-registered samples of microbial DNA for follow-on shore-based analyses that allow identification of the organisms and information about their novel metabolisms.
The RAS (Remote Access Sampler - RASFLA301) allows time-series temperature measurement in real-time and in situ sampling of hydrothermal vent fluids, while the PPS (Phytoplankton Sampler - PPSDNA301) allows filtering and preservation of microbial DNA. This coupled system, developed by D. Butterfield at NOAA-PMEL, is now installed in the International District Hydrothermal Vent Field at the active hydrothermal vent called 'El Gordo'. It is cabled to the Primary Infrastructure through the medium-powered junction box MJ03C. Because it is cabled, which allows two-way communication and power, the diffuse fluid and microbial sampling can be triggered from shore in response to volcanic or tectonic events.
During Leg 1 of the VISIONS '14 expedition, the RAS-PPS samplers were installed in the International District 1 Site (MJ03C) in the Axial Caldera .