ROPOS supports BGR in the Indian Ocean

ROPOS identified two new vent fields along the Northern section of the Southeast Indian Ridge

From October 31st to December 18th, the CSSF team had the pleasure of working for the German Federal Institutes of Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) in the Indian Ocean, on board the deep-sea research ship RV SONNE. INDEX2019 focused on exploring for new active and inactive polymetallic sulphide sites and on expanding the environmental baseline in BGR’s allocated lease clusters. During this 7-week period ROPOS conducted 18 dives and went to a maximum depth of 3,300 meters.

This was the first CSSF mobilization of ROPOS on the Research Vessel SONNE, which is an exceptionally well-outfitted ocean sciences platform that came into service in 2014.

It was a privilege to work with BGR chief scientist Dr. Ulrich (Uli) Schwarz-Schampera, who provided the following overview:

“The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Germany, greatly acknowledges the very successful, efficient and professional collaboration with CSSF (ROPOS) during INDEX2019 (SO271) onboard the German research vessel TFS SONNE between October 31 and December 18, 2019.”

"BGR holds an exploration license with the International Seabed Authority for marine polymetallic sulfides in the Western Indian Ocean. After license signature in 2015, INDEX2019 was the sixth exploration cruise over the course of the 15 year-license, locating and defining active and prospective inactive sulfide sites. It was the fourth time ROPOS has been involved in BGR`s exploration efforts."

"After 18 ROPOS dives, BGR could distinctly enlarge the surface occurrences of significant active and inactive polymetallic sulfide areas and identified two new vent fields (Surya, Sooraj) along the Northern section of the Southeast Indian Ridge. ROPOS recovered more than 500 kg of sulfide ores and host rocks, 27 vent fluid samples, 36 sediment push cores and 4,125 vent specific biological samples with 5,477 animals and 89 microbiological samples."

"CSSF provides a very high level of experience and ROPOS is an excellent tool in the field of sulfide exploration and the sampling of marine faunal diversity. BGR highly appreciates the collaboration with the excellent ROPOS team, looks forward to chartering ROPOS for its INDEX2020 (SO278) campaign, and intends to charter CSSF for future cruises in the ongoing exploration for marine polymetallic sulfides in the Western Indian Ocean.”

By the Numbers

ROPOS performance during the expedition


Hours Submerged

Over 18 operational days, ROPOS completed 18 dives, totaling almost 186 hours submerged.

500 kg

Sulphide Ores and Rocks

ROPOS sampled over 500 kg of sulphide ores and host rocks. These samples, some as long as a meter, were carefully collected using the manipulators and placed in individual sampling boxes for recovery to the surface.


Vent Fluid Samples

Using a multi-port fluid sampling system mounted underneath the vehicle, ROPOS collected 27 high temperature vent fluid samples.


Sediment Push Cores

ROPOS produced over 36 push cores, which were stored in holsters in the swing arms for safe transport to the surface.


Vent Specific Biological Samples

ROPOS sampled approximately 4,125 animal and microbial vent species. These samples were carefully collected using the manipulators, scoops, nets and suction sampling, before being placed in individual sample boxes or jars for transport to the surface.