RV SONNE Cruise - SO239


Duration: 52 days, March 10 - April 30 2015 

An international group of 40 scientists and technicians from Belgium, France, Germany, Poland Portugal, and Romania is on board and supported by equipment from Netherlands to endeavor in this exciting but also challenging research cruise.



Aim of this 52 day long cruise to the Mn-nodule belt in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the equatorial Pacific is:

  1. to study biological communities at and in the seafloor,
  2. monitor physical and chemical conditions up to 400m high into the water column above the 4.5km deep seafloor,
  3. and perform geochemical investigations in the sediment.

All this is done to allow a better and scientifically sound assessment of the possible impact of Mn-nodule mining in this deep-sea environment. The cruise will work in the German, Belgian, and French License areas. It will also investigate a previous disturbance experiment in the License area of InterOceanMetal (IOM) and France and for the first time will do studies in area 3 of the Areas of Particular Environmental Interest (APEI).


Technology used during the cruise:

During SO239 a large variety of state-of-the art equipment will be used.

Well established techniques will be used to recover sediment in gravity cores (GC) and TV-guided multi corer (TV-MUC) deployments. The same multi corer will also sample sediment for meiofauna assessments in the top sediments of the seafloor.

An Epi-benthos sled (EBS) will sample benthos at the sediment surface along a transect of ca. 1 km. Baited traps will be deployed for several days to attract amphipods and other scavenging and mobile species.

The ROV Kiel 6000 will be used to visually survey the Mn-nodule covered seafloor and also sea mounts that often occur in the CCZ. It will also be used for collecting animals, take sediment samples with its push-core system and perform insitu experiments for testing the ‘crushability' of Mn-nodules in the deep sea.

For getting a detailed view of the seafloor on large special scale, AUV Abyss will hydroacoustically and visually map the seafloor during several dives.