What is the Chemistry of Endeavour's Hydrothermal Fluids?

Withstanding the Seafloor Environment

There are many challenges to working in the deep-sea vent environment that require specialized sampling equipment. For example, samplers must be designed to withstand pressures < 200 times those we live under, temperatures up to 400°C (752F), and fluids that dissolve metals in < 1 day.

Sampling Small Amounts of Chemicals and Gases

In addition, because some of the most valuable measurements are of chemicals and gases that occur in extremely small amounts, it is also important that the instruments remain free from anything that may contaminate the samples. Because of these constraints, one of the most common materials used in the design of equipment to sample vent fluids is the metal called titanium. During this expedition, we are using two specially designed pieces of equipment to sample hydrothermal vent fluids for chemistry.

The Major Sampler

Titanium Major Samplers are discrete water samplers that use a syringe-like plunger to draw in vent fluids through a narrow titanium nozzle that is placed down into the throat of the vent. Each sampler draws in 760 ml of vent fluid. These samplers are used to obtain fluids suitable for chemical analyses of major and trace elements in the fluids and some isotopes.