A precision multi-sampler for deep-sea hydrothermal microbial mat studies
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A new tool was developed for deep-sea microbial mat studies by remotely operated vehicles and was successfully deployed during a cruise to the hydrothermal vent systems of the Mid-Cayman Rise. The Mat Sampler allows for discrete, controlled material collection from complex microbial structures, vertical-profiling within thick microbial mats and particulate and fluid sample collection from venting seafloor fluids. It has a reconfigurable and expandable sample capacity based on magazines of 6 syringes, filters, or water bottles. Multiple magazines can be used such that 12-36 samples can be collected routinely during a single dive; several times more if the dive is dedicated for this purpose. It is capable of hosting in situ physical, electrochemical, and optical sensors, including temperature and oxygen probes in order to guide sampling and to record critical environmental parameters at the time and point of sample collection. The precision sampling capability of this instrument will greatly enhance efforts to understand the structured, delicate, microbial mat communities that grow in diverse benthic habitats. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.