grafika ilustracyjnaOn February 17, 2023, the Polish Geological Institute - National Research Institute (PGI-NRI) signed a contract with the Norwegian company Argeo Survey AS for detailed exploration and data acquisition in selected areas of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (Leg 2).

In 2022, PGI-NRI conducted the first cruise for regional exploration (Leg 1) to area covered by the Contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of polymetallic sulphides.

As a result of work carried out jointly with the Ocean Floor Geophysics Inc. (Canada), high-quality comprehensive geophysical and oceanographic data were acquired, which enabled the identification of key morphological structures of the seafloor and the identification of water anomalies within known hydrothermal fields. One of the most important achievements of the first cruise was the delineation of areas potentially prospective for massive sulphide accumulation and the discovery of two new OCC (Oceanic Core Complex) areas.

The next phase of work, for which a contract has been signed with Argeo Survey AS, is high-resolution near-seafloor geophysical- and environmental data acquisition for deep-sea exploration. The surveys will be conducted in areas selected as prospective for the occurrence of massive sulphides, characterized by complex geological conditions.

For this purposes, the SeaRaptor, an advanced autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), developed by Teledyne Marine Gavia, will be used to acquire deep-sea data.

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The survey will make use of all the high-quality sensors integrated into the vehicle increasing the sensitivity of measurements and data resolution. The AUV's will provide high-quality pelagic, benthic and subsurface data, which are key to addressing environmental sensitivities associated with deep-sea mineral deposits. Some collected data will be processed aboard the AUV, and all data will be quality controlled and pre-processed onboard the surface vessel, allowing for rapid turnaround during the mission and better decision-making.

Argeo's state-of-the-art technology and experience, coupled with detailed data from the first regional exploration cruise, will allow the verification of selected prospective areas and identification of the occurrence of deposits associated with hydrothermal activity, contributing to the ongoing international discussion of the value and resource potential of deep-sea areas.

The pioneering nature of the ongoing oceanic research level-up the Polish Geological Institute-NRI in terms of the quality of data held and the level of recognition of these extreme ecosystems.

Text: Michał Tomczak, Agata Kozłowska-Roman