Hadal Science and Technology Program (HADSTEP): First Step to Understand the Deepest Ocean in China

Friday, 19 December 2014
Gulashan Tang, Sanya Institute of Deep-sea Science and Engineering, Marine Operation Division, Sanya, China and Xiaotong Peng, Sanya Institute of Deep-sea Science and Engineering, Deep-sea Science Division, Sanya, China
The hadal zone (depths greater than 6000 m), comprising mostly deep trenches on Earth, represents the largest poorly understood and the most mysterious habitat on Earth. Hadal Science and Technology Program (HADSTEP), the first Chinese deep-sea program focusing primarily on the hadal zones, was financially supported by Chinese Academy of Sciences in April, 2014. The objective of this program is to explore and understand of the deepest environments and their ecosystems on Earth, in combination with the development of hadal technology. The main research interests of this program are to determine (i) the community structure, ecological function, and evolution of the hadal communities, (ii) the environmental features and biogeochemical processes of hadal zones, (iii) the impact of deep-sea current and tectonic activity on hadal fauna, and (iv) the geological evolution of hadal zones. Meanwhile, a great effort will be made for technological developments to access the extreme depths. Several hadal equipments (e.g. free-fall imaging lander, glider, deep mooring, animal trap, sediment trap, chemical sensor, and seismometer) will be developed to improve the capability of hadal exploration. Renewed interest in the deep trenches combined with technological advances will create new opportunities to explore and understand the deepest environment on earth.