Water measurement instruments (WMDs) have been used in hydrothermally venting (HV) experiments for over 150 years.
These instruments have been successfully used in many hydrothermic studies including some of the most successful ones, such as the Kurchatov-Kosan and Tunguska vents, which produced massive quantities of methane and CO2 in the atmosphere.
Now, scientists have developed a new instrument to measure the depth of the HV vent, which has the potential to help to predict the venting conditions in future experiments.
A team led by Jain Kumar and colleagues at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) has successfully developed a water measurement device that can be used in deep-sea hydrothermia experiments.
Their work was published in the journal Science Advances.
“The HV water measurement is the first time such a device has been developed in the literature,” says Kumar, who also heads the HIDTA-A project at the IIT.
“It is an extremely robust device with high sensitivity, high sensitivity to pH, and a large area of operation.”
The HIDTC is an underwater probe with a depth of 1 meter (4 feet).
Its main purpose is to measure oxygen concentration in water, which is measured with a spectrometer.
The device is made of polymeric film that can absorb a wide range of wavelengths.
The team used a series of experiments, including experiments with methane, to obtain the results they wanted.
“Our measurements revealed that methane concentrations in the vent were higher than the measurements obtained in the other laboratories,” says K. S. Prasad, who led the study.
This indicates that methane can reach the HVD vent at a lower pH, he says.
“Our results confirm that the HVA vent is more efficient than other vents, such a vent at Kurchattov-Dakshina or the Tungun-Dukhara vents,” says Prasads colleague P. Sankaran.
“This is the largest HV gas vent found to date.”
The HVA vents, known as Kurcharikov-Borjevic vents, were the deepest known gas-bearing vent in the world.
The team used the new instrument in its experiments to explore the HAV vent’s composition and pH.
The HVA’s temperature can reach a maximum of about 10 degrees Celsius, but at its depth it can be as low as 0.5 degrees Celsius.
That makes it a more suitable environment for methane to accumulate.
The device is a two-sided device with a diameter of 3 millimeters (1/16 inch), which can measure oxygen at a depth between 50 and 1,000 meters (165 and 2,500 feet).
The probe can be attached to the vent with a special membrane.
“The HVD gas can reach temperatures as low (or even below) 4 degrees Celsius,” says G. Srinivasan, who is also a member of the team.
“For this reason, we used a small pressure-sensitive device that we fabricated with a 3-millimeter diameter.
The surface of the membrane has a temperature of about 2.5 to 4 degrees, and it can reach temperature down to about 0.6 degrees Celsius.”
The team also tested the device’s accuracy.
“We had a very good measurement of the oxygen concentration, which shows that it is not affected by the surface pH or water pH, but only by the pressure,” says S. N. Bhatnagar, the first author of the study, which was published online in the Journal of Applied Physics.
“A higher pH of 3.5 or 4.0 means less water vapor and less CO2, so this is very important for hydrothermitic experiments,” says Bhatnsagar, who heads the IET’s department of Physics and Astronomy.
The researchers hope to develop a larger device to measure CO2 and methane concentrations.
They plan to expand the device to include a gas detector.
The new device has several advantages over other existing HV devices, such that it has a much larger area of use, such being able to measure water concentrations.
And because the HUV vent is shallow, it is much easier to study the vent.
The researchers also believe the device can be scaled up in future to measure other gases in the HVO.
“It is also important that this device can provide a reliable method to study HV at different depths,” says P. P. Kumar, another member of Prasades team.
He adds that it will also be useful for monitoring CO2 levels in deep sea vents, where it can also be used to measure HV levels.