When Chilean scientist Osvaldo Ulloa led an expedition 8,000 meters below the ocean to an space the place no human had ever been, his workforce found microscopic organisms that generated extra questions than solutions.


The January submarine expedition dove into the Atacama Trench, created by the assembly of two tectonic plates within the jap Pacific Ocean.

“We pulled off the feat of taking people into the ditch the place no different human being had been earlier than,” Ulloa, the director of the Millennium Institute of Oceanography on the College of Concepcion, advised AFP.

He was joined by American explorer Victor Vescovo and Millennium assistant director Ruben Escribano on the 12-week journey off Chile’s northern coast within the 5,900-kilometer (3,650-mile) lengthy trench that extends as much as Ecuador.

By the point the expedition, named Atacama Hadal, reached a depth of 100 meters, it was already in pitch-black darkness, with the crew members’ imaginative and prescient restricted to what the submarine’s highly effective LED gentle may seize.

Additional down out of the darkness emerged exceptional examples of deep-sea life.

“We got here throughout geological buildings, and there we noticed a sort of holothurians or translucent sea cucumbers, like jelly, that we had not recorded and have been most likely new species,” mentioned Ulloa.

“We additionally found bacterial communities that had filaments that we didn’t even know existed within the Atacama Trench and which feed on chemical and inorganic compounds.


“That opened up an enormous variety of questions: What are these compounds? What kind of micro organism are they? We don’t know, we will have to return there.”

The expedition additionally discovered species of amphipods, a sort of crustacean intently associated to shrimp, which have been scavenging crustaceans, segmented worms, and translucent fish. They have been found in the identical place in an unmanned expedition in 2018.

‘Extremely formidable’

The Atacama Trench – also called the Peru-Chile Trench – lies the place the Nazca and South American tectonic plates converge.

It’s an space that has produced many earthquakes and tsunamis.

“We’ll put three sensors on the South American Plate and two on the Nazca Plate to see how the oceanic flooring is deformed,” mentioned Ulloa.

For the second, “a majority of these sensors solely exist on land.”

The units will enable scientists to watch the place power is constructing in areas that haven’t had an earthquake, thus serving to predict the place the subsequent temblor will happen.

“It’s an extremely formidable challenge,” mentioned Ulloa, including that it’s “the most important experiment that has been accomplished in underwater geology right here in Chile.”

The sensors are as a result of be positioned in the course of the second half of this 12 months.

“There’s loads of curiosity from the worldwide neighborhood to place extra sensors on this area to check all of the processes related to the collision of those two plates.”

© Agence France-Presse


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