Alvin instrument

Image: Underwater sensor for studying chemistry at deep-sea vent sites

Caption: This state-of-the-art electrochemical analyzer was developed by scientists at the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies to provide real-time chemical analyses of the toxic stew erupting from deep-sea hydrothermal vents.  
The unit was developed by Dr. George Luther, Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Marine Studies at the University of Delaware, and Dr. Donald Nuzzio, president of Analytical Instrument Systems in Flemington, New Jersey. Dr. Nuzzio also is an adjunct professor at UD's College of Marine Studies. 
Housed within the foot-long wand are several probe-like, gold-tipped electrodes, which are coated in super-tough plastic to protect them from heat. Once the wand is attached to one of the submersible Alvin's highly maneuverable arms and placed near a hydrothermal vent, it can instantaneously reveal the chemical compounds erupting from the Earth's crust. Previously, scientists had to collect vent water samples using the sub and then analyze them hours later aboard ship after chemical changes may have occurred.

Credit: George Luther/University of Delaware College of Marine Studies
NSF-funded: YES (The NSF grant that supported this research initially was OCE-9714302) 
NSF permission to use: YES

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