An in-situ Mobile pH Calibrator for application with HOV and ROV platform in deep sea environments

Friday, 19 December 2014
Chunyang Tan1,2, Kang Ding1 and William E Seyfried Jr1, (1)University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN, United States, (2)Sanya Institute of Deep-sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya, China
Recently, a novel in-situ sensor calibration instrument, Mobile pH Calibrator (MpHC), was developed for application with HOV Alvin.  It was specifically designed to conduct in-situ pH measurement in deep sea hydrothermal diffuse fluids with in-situ calibration function. In general, the sensor calibrator involves three integrated electrodes (pH, dissolved H2 and H2S) and a temperature sensor, all of which are installed in a cell with a volume of ~ 1 ml. A PEEK check valve cartridge is installed at the inlet end of the cell to guide the flow path during the measurement and calibration processes. Two PEEK tubes are connected at outlet end of the cell for drawing out hydrothermal fluid and delivering pH buffer fluids. During its measurement operation, the pump draws in hydrothermal fluid, which then passes through the check valve directly into the sensing cell. When in calibration mode, the pump delivers pH buffers into the cell, while automatically closing the check valve to the outside environment.

This probe has two advantages compared to our previous unit used during KNOX18RR MAR cruise in 2008 and MARS cabled observatory deployment in 2012. First, in the former design, a 5 cm solenoid valve was equipped with the probe. This enlarged size prevented its application in specific point or small area. In this version, the probe has only a dimension of 1.6 cm for an easy access to hydrothermal biological environments. Secondly, the maximum temperature condition of the earlier system was limited by the solenoid valve precluding operation in excess of 50 ºC. The new design avoids this problem, which improves its temperature tolerance. The upper limit of temperature condition is now up to 100oC, therefore enabling broader application in hydrothermal diffuse flow system on the seafloor.

During SVC cruise (AT26-12) in the Gulf of Mexico this year, the MpHC was successfully tested with Alvin dives at the depth up to 2600 m for measuring pH with in-situ calibration in seafloor cold seep environment. The measurement and calibration were also conducted in hydrothermal diffuse flow at temperature condition exceeding 70 ºC with Alvin dives during a recent cruise AT26-17 in ASHES vent field and Main Endeavour Field on Juan de Fuca Ridge. Data from these seagoing deployments will be presented, with emphasis on both technical and scientific aplications.