Led jointly by IFREMER and the IPGP-CNRS/INSU, the MoMARSAT research cruise to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge off the Azores will run from 1 to 16 October 2010. The objective of this expedition on board the R/V Pourquoi pas? is to deploy an array of autonomous oceanographic instruments — connected underwater — that will continuously monitor the active hydrothermal processes on the Lucky Strike vent field. The data acquired at 1700 m depth will be transmitted to a surface buoy and then by satellite to land-based research centres, several thousands of kilometres away!

The MoMARSAT cruise is part of MoMAR, one of the demonstration missions of the European ESONET programme that is developing a network of deep-sea observatories. Several research institutes are closely involved in the demonstration mission: Universities of the Azores and Lisbon, NOC, University of Bremen, IUEM/UBO, OMP-LMTG and UPMC/LOCEAN. The objectives of the deep-sea observatories are to monitor, in real time, the natural dynamics of marine ecosystems and to identify the factors that influence environmental variation and faunal assemblages.

At the end of the cruise, participating scientists will be able to continuously monitor the variations in temperature, physico-chemical conditions and seismic activity in the area as welle as observe the highly unusual hydrothermal fauna in action! This observatory will be operational for one year and the instruments will be recovered in Summer 2011.