Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Benthic Ecology and Biology
Monterey Canyon: Measuring Carbon Flux to the Benthos

Sediment traps measure the amount and characteristics of material setting to the bottom of the ocean. Beginning in 2002, we have deployed traps in the Monterey Canyon and at a site outside of the canyon at similar depths (~1300m) to assess differences in the amount and quality of matter that reaches the bottom.

The sediment trap is an Indented Rotating Sphere trap and is designed to prevent zooplankton from grazing on material that concentrates in traps. We can collect 12 samples and have been collecting samples for 3 or 6 months per deployment. Every week the carousel rotates and another tube starts collecting the settling material.

Through the use of acoustic releases we are able to deploy and recover the traps and the associated other instruments, with our smallest research vessel, the RV Zephyr. 

Due to the weight, length of the mooring and the number of junctions necessary to accommodate all instruments, it is a carefully choreographed dance to deploy the anchor, acoustic release, associated tackle, sediment trap cage, current meter and floats.

Typically the Captain mans the J frame, the Engineer controls the winch and the technicians connect the instruments.  After everything is strung together, the array gets lowered close to the bottom and through the use of a second release the winch cable is released and the mooring settles to its resting spot for the next 3 months.

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