LUSO Hydrothermal Field declared fully protected, not take marine protected area

The LUSO Hydrothermal Field, discovered during the 2018 Oceano Azul Expedition, was declared a no take Marine Protected Area by the Regional Government of the Azores.

Already published, the ordinance states that the surrounding area of the LUSO Hydrothermal Field on the underwater mount, the “Gigante”, located 60 miles from Faial, is now a fully protected, no take marine protected area.

The Oceano Azul Foundation congratulates the decision of the Regional Government of the Azores to preserve such an ecologically important area, of ​​great interest for deep sea research.

This critical decision, which is not only in the interests of the region and the local Azorean people, but for Portugal as well, is another step towards achieving the objectives of the Blue Azores Program.


The LUSO Hydrothermal Field was discovered on June 16, 2018 at about 570 meters deep, during the Scientific Expedition organized by the Oceano Azul Foundation, Waitt Foundation and National Geographic Pristine Seas, in partnership with the Portuguese Navy, Estrutura de Missão para Extensão da Plataforma Continental (EMEPC), IMAR, and the University of the Azores, in close partnership with the Azores Regional Government.

In August of the same year, the LUSO Hydrothermal Field was the subject of further study. The Oceano Azul Expedition’s deep-sea ecosystem team, which, in collaboration with the scientific team of the French TRANSECT campaign, collected biological, geological, chimney structure samples with an ROV (underwater robot) to identify microorganisms, as well as a number of samples from water and hydrothermal fluids.

This study showed that the LUSO Hydrothermal Field has unique characteristics and is a zone of high biological, geological and chemical importance.


“This hydrothermal field is unique. In addition to being at a shallow depth, which is very rare, it also has different environmental conditions than other known hydrothermal fields. It can thus sustain biological communities very different from those that inhabit other hydrothermal vents and have an important influence on the productivity of the region where it operates,” says Emanuel Gonçalves, leader of the Oceano Azul Expedition and Chief Scientist at the Oceano Azul Foundation. The creation of marine protected areas is strategic and fundamental for the conservation and sustainable use of marine natural capital. In November 2019, the Oceano Azul Foundation, the Waitt Institute, the National Geographic Pristine Seas, the University of the Azores | OKEANOS and IMAR will present the final scientific report and television documentary of the Oceano Azul Expedition.


Characteristics of the LUSO Hydrothermal Field

/ Two large active chimneys

/ Fluids with temperatures between 50oC and 65oC

/ Several small inactive chimneys

/ Chimneys made of metal-rich clays (iron and manganese oxide) Various species of deep coral and crustaceans associated with the most active chimney

/ Presence of recent basaltic lava in adjacent areas