A look back at the Momarsat 2022 cruise

The Momarsat 2022 cruise was held from June 6 to June 27th 2022 onboard the French research vessel Pourquoi pas? at the Lucky Strike vent field - northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge - to carry out the yearly maintenance of the EMSO-Azores observatory.

Once again and despite a few Covid cases on board, we ensured the turnover of the full platform and sensor array and started another year of data acquisition! The team of 30 scientists from Ifremer, CNRS (IPGP, GET, MIO, LPO), University of Western Brittany (UBO) and University of the Azores worked together during the 15 Nautile dives to achieve the substantial sampling plan paramount to the long-term monitoring of the vent field. A novelty this year, in order to reduce our environmental footprint on the seafloor, a collaboration with the submersible and ship crews enabled the development of new procedures to limit the amount of weights left at the bottom. Instead of free fall elevators that release 500 kg of weights on the bottom, a few were deployed using the deep-sea cable. In addition, one dive was dedicated to the recovery of lost weights using the Nautile and the ship deep-sea cable. This procedure will be reconducted in the following cruises. Visit the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CampagneMomarsat/) for more detailed information of scientific and technological achievements.

The presence of a cartoonist on board all along the cruise contributed to reinforce the synergy between all the people onboard. Through a hundreds of illustrations, Damien Roudeau described and shared the adventure of scientists, pilots and crew members working together towards a common objective: enhance our knowledge about deep-sea ecosystems. After this month-long journal, a comic book story will be prepared (to be released at the end of 2024) to embody the scientific, environmental and financial stakes of the quest for rare earths and strategic minerals through this mission. This journey was initiated several years ago by researchers M. Matabos and J. Sarrazin during a conversation with N. Le Roy, a seaman of the Pourquoi pas? concerned by environmental issues related to the sea. You can have a look at the Instagram pages (Momarsat) to get a sketched overview of the cruise.

The EMSO-Azores observatory is part of the One Ocean Network for Deep Observation action of Ifremer endorsed by the UN Ocean Decade program (https://www.oceandecade.org/actions/one-ocean-network-for-deep-observation/).

Authors : J Sarrazin/M Matabos