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China sub Jiaolong begins deep sea exploration in Indian Ocean for polymetallic sulfides

China’s submersible Jiaolong has been exploring a deep-sea search mainly for polymetallic sulfides in the southwest Indian Ocean on a four-month mission.

Jialong began its dive at 7:30 a.m. local time (0330 GMT) and returned the same day and it is expected carry out its exploration for four months with team which Fu Wentao, a diver of Jiaolong; Ye Cong, chief designer of Jiaolong and an employee of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp; and Tao Chunhui, researcher with the Second Institute of Oceanography of the State Oceanic Administration.

Jialong (Photo: causa-nostra.com)

The depth of the dive is around 2,700 meters to 3,000 meters and “Our scientists want to get some samples of rocks, biology and sulfide in the submarine hydrothermal area. If we are lucky enough to find an active hydrothermal vent, we will try to get a sample of the hydrothermal fluid and test its temperature,” said Tao.

Jiaolong will dive 20 times to explore for polymetallic sulfides, biological diversity, hydrothermal microbes and genetic resources in the southwest Indian Ocean during the next four months, said Yu Hongjun, chief commander of the mission.

The name Jaiolong is given after a mythical dragon and the submersible had reached its deepest depth of 7,062 meters in the Pacific’s Mariana Trench in June 2012.

Jiaolong collected 116 biological samples, 22 rock samples, 100 kg of cobalt-rich crust and 24 kg of polymetallic crust samples, as well as 1,232 liters of seawater from the Pacific Ocean. It underwent some repairs before the commencement of its southwest Indian Ocean mission now.

China has taken up the ambitious ocean exploration program in 2002.

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