Text: Bénédicte Ferré
The project EMAN7 (Environmental impact of Methane seepage and sub-seabed characterization at LoVe – Node 7) consists in a consortium between UiT, UiB and IMR. Our main mission is to understand how oceanic parameters and climate change influence methane seepage from the seafloor, and the subsequent impacts on ecosystem health. Node 7, one of the 7 nodes installed in the frame of the project Lofoten-Vesterålen Ocean Observatory (LoVe), is deployed in a seepage area. Only 180m north of these seeps lives a large and healthy cold water coral reef. Why are these coral reefs thriving there despite a possible ocean acidification due to methane emission? What is influencing this release and how does it influence the surrounding sub-seafloor and water column? How long has the methane been leaking there? Where does it go? How much carbon is expelled from the seafloor? We are trying to answer these questions using the long time series collected from the node, and also from data collected during our current cruise.
We are used to chasing flares during our cruises at CAGE, but this time we also look for corals. These beautiful submarine flowers cover part of the floor at Hola trough, and one of the teams, led by Tina Kutti from IMR, collects them to understand the effect of CH4 seeps on cold water coral reef communities and their capacity for adaptation. Answering this is impossible in lab environment because these are extremely long -lived species that require decades of exposure to reveal their true stress response.
Cold water coral reef near node 7 in Hola trough.