INSPIRE: International South-East Pacific Investigation of Reducing Environments

With a coastline stretching more than 4,300 km (>2,700 miles), the geology and biology of Chile provides an incredible natural laboratory to study how life on our earth functions and has evolved. One specific setting, the Chile Triple Junction, of particular interest to two intersecting international programs – InterRidge and the Census of Marine Life - exemplifies this. The Chile Triple Junction (CTJ) area represents the intersection of three tectonic plates and the only place on Earth where a mid ocean ridge spreading center is being actively subducted beneath a continental margin. Yet the processes active at the CTJ today have likely recurred around the perimeter of the Pacific basin throughout that ocean’s history.

In February-March 2010 we conducted the first systematic exploration for hydrothermal vents and adjacent cold seeps at the Triple Junction as part of a larger cruise aboard R/V Melville that also sought to investigate a wider range of habitats extending north from the CTJ along the Chile Trench and Margin.

Cruise report with accompanying images below

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