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Benthic diagenesis and microbiology of hadal trenches

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - HADES (Benthic diagenesis and microbiology of hadal trenches)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-06-30

The hadal zone from 6 to 11 km of depth encompasses the greatest ocean depth on Earth. They represent one of the most extreme marine environments and are a strong source of fascination, yet remain virtually unexplored compartments of the ocean. This is mainly because of the technical challenges in operating instrumentation and collecting samples at these extreme depths. During HADES-ERC we will develop and apply the next generation of deep-sea instrumentation to explore life and function of the hadal trenches. This includes an understanding of how life manifests at extreme pressures and how trench communities differ from communities in more well-studied oceanic environments.
Novel deep sea instrumentation has been developed and applied during two major expeditions to trench environments in the Pacific Ocean. The preliminary data demonstrated that the deepest parts of the ocean act as deposition centers for organic material and host intensified biological activity. Furthermore life appears to be much more dynamic and varied than previously anticipated. However the full scientific insight will first be obtained when the very many data and thousands of samples that were collected during the expeditions have been analyzed and interpreted.
The project applies completely new sophisticated instrumentation for hadal exploration and will provide unprecedented insight into life in the deepest parts of the global ocean. New life forms are expected to be discovered and we will provide the first complete insight on microbial cycling and element cycles in hadal trenches.