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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Alumni explore the Southern Ocean

In January 2011, the NERC research ship RRS James Cook set sail from Punta Arenas, Chile on a 41-day expedition to explore newly discovered hydrothermal vents in the Southern Ocean. This expedition was linked intrinsically to the University of Southampton, not just through it being led by Ocean and Earth Science’s Professor of Deep-Sea Biology, Paul Tyler, but by its inclusion of 10 Southampton alumni.

Here, in her own words, Professor Rachel Mills (BSc Oceanography with Chemistry, 1988) talks about the cruise.

“The NERC research ship RRS James Cook sailed from Punta Arenas, one of the world’s most southern cities, in January 2011. 21 scientists, including 10 Southampton alumni, flew south to join the ship to find the port paralysed by the Patagonian general strike and the city largely blockaded by the tax-hike protestors. Despite logistical difficulties we managed to sail with a full complement, heading south across the infamous Drake Passage towards Antarctica.

Our plan was to carry out a 41-day expedition to explore the newly discovered hydrothermal vents in this remote region. The expedition leader Professor Paul Tyler has vast amounts of experience of working in this hostile environment and he built a team of scientists with a range of experience in a variety of disciplines. The expedition took us south to the Bransfield Strait, Antarctica and then east to the South Sandwich Islands. Hydrothermal vents pump hot water into the deep ocean and we investigated both the chemical environment and the biological communities around the spectacular vent sites, culminating with the exciting discovery of a new, shallow vent site within Adventure Caldera on the East Scotia Ridge.

Southampton alumni led both the video surveying and mapping of the seafloor and the sampling of sediments and hydrothermal plumes around the vents. Studying at Southampton is clearly a springboard to a successful scientific career, with global travel to fabulous destinations and great job satisfaction in pushing back the frontiers of science.”

Alumni Involved:

Cathy Cole (MSc 2010)
Doug Connelly (PhD 1997)
Jon Copley (MSc 1995, PhD 1998)
Adrian Glover (PhD 2001)
Laura Hepburn (MOcean 2009)
Leigh Marsh (MOcean 2005)
Rachel Mills (BSc 1988)
Will Read (MSc 2003)
Nikolai Roterman (MSc 2008)
Veerle Huvenne (MSc 1999)

Photo: Leighton Rolley
Rachael Mills and her fellow alumni
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