Integrating Multidisciplinary Observations in Vent Environments (IMOVE): Decadal Progress in Deep-Sea Observatories at Hydrothermal Vents

Frontiers in Marine Science, Vol. 9 (2022)

  • Marjolaine Matabos
  • Ifremer, Département REM, Plouzané, France
  • Thibaut Barreyre
  • Department of Earth Science and Centre for Deep Sea Research, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  • S. Kim Juniper
  • Ocean Networks Canada, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
  • Mathilde Cannat
  • Equipe de Géosciences Marines, Université de Paris, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, UMR CNRS, Paris, France
  • Deborah Kelley
  • School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States
  • Joan M. Alfaro-Lucas
  • Department of Marine Zoology, Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • Valérie Chavagnac
  • Géosciences Environnement Toulouse CNRS UMR IRD/UPS/CNES, Université de Toulouse, Toulouse, France
  • Ana Colaço
  • Instituto de Investigação em Ciências do Mar - Okeanos, Universidade dos Açores, Horta, Portugal
  • Javier Escartin
  • Laboratoire de Géologie, CNRS, UMR, École Normale Supérieure, PSL University, Paris, France
  • Elva Escobar
  • 0Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Ciudad Universitaria Mexico City, Mexico
  • Daniel Fornari
  • 1Geology and Geophysics Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, United States
  • Jörg Hasenclever
  • 2Institute of Geophysics, Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability, Hamburg University, Hamburg, Germany
  • Julie A. Huber
  • 3Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, United States
  • Agathe Laës-Huon
  • Ifremer, Département REM, Plouzané, France
  • Nadine Lantéri
  • Ifremer, Département REM, Plouzané, France
  • Lisa Ann Levin
  • 4Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States
  • Steve Mihaly
  • Ocean Networks Canada, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
  • Eric Mittelstaedt
  • 5Department of Earth and Spatial Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID, United States
  • Florence Pradillon
  • Ifremer, Département REM, Plouzané, France
  • Pierre-Marie Sarradin
  • Ifremer, Département REM, Plouzané, France
  • Jozée Sarrazin
  • Ifremer, Département REM, Plouzané, France
  • Beatrice Tomasi
  • [email protected], ISEN Yncréa Ouest, Brest, France
  • Beatrice Tomasi
  • 7Norwegian Research Center, NORCE, Bergen, Norway
  • Ramasamy Venkatesan
  • 8Ocean Observation Systems, National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai, India
  • Clément Vic
  • 9Univ. Brest, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale, Plouzané, France


The unique ecosystems and biodiversity associated with mid-ocean ridge (MOR) hydrothermal vent systems contrast sharply with surrounding deep-sea habitats, however both may be increasingly threatened by anthropogenic activity (e.g., mining activities at massive sulphide deposits). Climate change can alter the deep-sea through increased bottom temperatures, loss of oxygen, and modifications to deep water circulation. Despite the potential of these profound impacts, the mechanisms enabling these systems and their ecosystems to persist, function and respond to oceanic, crustal, and anthropogenic forces remain poorly understood. This is due primarily to technological challenges and difficulties in accessing, observing and monitoring the deep-sea. In this context, the development of deep-sea observatories in the 2000s focused on understanding the coupling between sub-surface flow and oceanic and crustal conditions, and how they influence biological processes. Deep-sea observatories provide long-term, multidisciplinary time-series data comprising repeated observations and sampling at temporal resolutions from seconds to decades, through a combination of cabled, wireless, remotely controlled, and autonomous measurement systems. The three existing vent observatories are located on the Juan de Fuca and Mid-Atlantic Ridges (Ocean Observing Initiative, Ocean Networks Canada and the European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water column Observatory). These observatories promote stewardship by defining effective environmental monitoring including characterizing biological and environmental baseline states, discriminating changes from natural variations versus those from anthropogenic activities, and assessing degradation, resilience and recovery after disturbance. This highlights the potential of observatories as valuable tools for environmental impact assessment (EIA) in the context of climate change and other anthropogenic activities, primarily ocean mining. This paper provides a synthesis on scientific advancements enabled by the three observatories this last decade, and recommendations to support future studies through international collaboration and coordination. The proposed recommendations include: i) establishing common global scientific questions and identification of Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) specific to MORs, ii) guidance towards the effective use of observatories to support and inform policies that can impact society, iii) strategies for observatory infrastructure development that will help standardize sensors, data formats and capabilities, and iv) future technology needs and common sampling approaches to answer today’s most urgent and timely questions.

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