Development and field application of a 6-bottle serial gas-tight fluid sampler for collecting seafloor cold seep and hydrothermal vent fluids with autonomous operation capability
Abstract:A 6-bottle serial gas-tight sampler (so-called “six-shooter”) was developed for application with deep-sea vent fluids. The new device is composed of a custom-made 6-channel valve manifold and six sampling bottles which are circularly distributed around the valve manifold. Each valve channel consists of a high-pressure titanium cartridge valve and a motor-driven actuator. A sampling snorkel is connected to the inlet of the manifold that delivers the incoming fluid to different bottles. Each sampling bottle has a 160 ml-volume chamber and an accumulator chamber inside where compressed nitrogen is used to maintain the sample at near in-situ pressure. An electronics chamber that is located at the center of the sampler is used to carry out all sampling operations, autonomously, if desired. The sampler is of a compact circular configuration with a diameter of 26 cm and a length of 54 cm.
During the SVC cruise AT 26-12, the sampler was deployed by DSV2 Alvin at a cold seep site MC036 with a depth of 1090 m in the Gulf of Mexico. The sampler collected fluid samples automatically following the tidal cycle to monitor the potential impact of the tide cycle on the fluid chemistry of cold seep in a period of two day.
During the cruise AT 26-17, the sampler was used with newly upgraded DSV2 Alvin three times at the hydrothermal vent sites along Axial Seamount and Main Endeavor Field on Juan de Fuca Ridge. During a 4-day deployment at Anemone diffuse site (Axial Caldera), the sampler was set to work in an autonomous mode to collect fluid samples according to the preset interval. During other dives, the sampler was manually controlled via ICL (Inductively Coupled Link) communication through the hull. Gas-tight fluid samples were collected from different hydrothermal vents with temperatures between 267 ℃ and 335 ℃ at the depth up to 2200 m.
The field results indicate unique advantages of the design. It can be deployed in extended time period with remote operation or working autonomously taking gas-tight fluid samples. If used with HOV or ROV, it will reduce basket space occupation and ICL communication cables compared to traditional single-bottle gas-tight samplers. This time serial gas-tight fluid sampler will be further developed into a 36 bottle system for remote operation with seafloor cabled observatory.