The project "First steps for uncovering the unknown of the Deep Ocean in the Eastern South Pacific: linking features habitats and biological communities" awarded CONICYT contest , tender sailing time abroad 2016 in the Oceanographic Ship AGS-61 Cabo de hornos. This project is led by the alternate director Ruben Escribano IMO, and with the participation of researchers IMO, Pamela Hidalgo, Marcela Cornejo, Samuel Hormazábal and Ramiro Riquelme.
With the objective to meet the planktonic communities that exist in the deep ocean atmosphere, and how these communities can be supported through primary production from the surface layers of the ocean, the IMO developed the MOPEX expedition (Ocean Expedition mesoscale Plankton).
"This is an exploratory expedition. We expected to find different life forms and determine how is their physico-chemical environment that surround them. Also, we hope to find species that have not been reported for this area. Thus, increase biodiversity inventory for Eastern South Pacific, it would be a great achievement, "says Pamela Hidalgo, deputy researcher at the Millennium Institute of Oceanography and head of research cruise MOPEX.
The MOPEX expedition took place between September 21st and 30th, where Cabo de Hornos oceanographic vessel sailed into the area linking Valparaiso and Caldera, specifically in the area called Atacama Trench, about 100 km from the Chilean coast. On this occasion, were obtained plankton samples that have never been achieved in Chile before. Incidentally, Ruben Escribano, alternate director at Millennium Institute of Oceanography affirms the importance of this milestone. "For the first time in Chile we could take measurements and collect samples at depths more than 5,000 meters in an unexplored area of the Pacific Ocean, which corresponds to the ocean trench in front of the coast between Caldera and Valparaiso. At these depths the atmosphere is very stable, cold and very high pressures, but still allows the existence of a variety of organisms, including plankton, fish and shellfish. "
The Pacific region in front of Chile is worldwide recognized for its important role in regulating the the ocean and the planet climate. The results will be an international impact, because these measurements and observations are unprecedented for the scientific community in general.
Notably the nets for the zooplankton organisms samples were released to 3,000 meters deep. Meanwhile, the rosette reached 5,000 meters deep, allowing the microbial communities analysis and water chemistry.
The challenge is to analyze all samples were obtained from MOPEX, which could reach one year of work. "I estimate that we have work material for one year. It is an analysis that could even reach for some master's and doctoral thesis "said Pamela Hidalgo.
The team joined 25 people and was conducted by IMO professors and researchers, both of the Universidad de Concepción and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. In addition also technical professionals and students, both master's and Phd from these universities.