Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
2009 Paific Northwest Expedition


Leg 1 - Laser Raman Spectroscopy
Chief Scientist - Peter Brewer
July 7 - 21, 2009

This expedition will use in situ laser Raman spectroscopy to study sediment pore-water profiles and clathrate hydrates from Hydrate Ridge and Barkley Canyon. At both sites we will conduct several sampling lines obtaining in situ measurements in the sediments near hydrate outcrops and or actively venting gas vents. A few push-core samples and hydrate gas samples will be collected from each site as well in order to compare collected samples to the in situ measurements. In addition, at Hydrate Ridge we will conduct a gas replacement experiment where we will study how fast CO2 will substitute for methane in clathrate hydrates at in situ conditions.

Day 16 – Pack it up, move it out…
July 22, 2009

Today is the last day on the ship. We’ve packed up all our gear, it is being loaded into the truck as I write, and we’ll be on our way home soon. Since I have no science to report on today, I thought I would take this opportunity to



Day 15 – Our last dive…
July 21, 2009

We have two tasks remaining for today’s dive: first, we need to complete the gas hydrate decomposition experiment, and second we need to...



Day 14 – Our work at Barkley Canyon is done
July 20, 2009

Most of the tasks that we wanted to do are accomplished. And we are underway to Hydrate Ridge where we have one last dive scheduled. It is a slow relaxing day for science and crew. We take time to catch-up on...



Day 13 – Keith, you’re going to need a bigger dive bag!
July 19, 2009

This is our last dive at Barkley Canyon: most of the tasks that we set out to do have been completed; most of the measurements have been made; only a few tasks remain so we looked forward to a short dive and an easy day. First on our list was...



Day 12 –The Great White Hope…
July 18, 2009

The purpose of this dive is to find a sample of pure/white gas hydrate and obtain a laser Raman spectrum. With this information we will ...



Day 11 –Where no ROV has gone before …
July 17, 2009

Today we will be exploring “blind” in a submarine canyon where no ROV has gone before. We begin the dive with great expectations however ...



Day 10 –Operation Deep Probe…
July 16, 2009

Unlike yesterday’s dive plan where we attempted to visit as many gas hydrate mounds as time allowed and to poke each in hopes of finding free gas or oil, today’s dive plan was to ...



Day 9 – Here a mound, there a mound, everywhere a mound, mound…
July 15, 2009

Before the cruise, we asked Dave Caress to take a look at the high resolution topographic data he generated from the Mapping AUV survey during the 2006 Barkley Canyon Expedition to see if there were any more mounds besides the ones we had already located. At the time, we thought he might come up with maybe 6 or 8 new targets. Much to our surprise...



Day 8 – Hump Day
July 14, 2009

Traditionally, the middle day of a cruise is known as “Hump Day". For us, this takes on a different meaning today as we arrive on station at Barkley Canyon and begin our search for a special series of...



Day 7 – Hi hoe, hi hoe, it’s off to work we go…
July 13, 2009

Today’s dive objectives were to explore the seafloor in search of a methane hydrate deposit and practice filling the glass hydrate chambers in preparation for our gas substitution experiment. We began by looking at sites we explored in...



Day 6 – Somewhere there is a place for us...
July 12, 2009

Today’s dive objectives were to explore the sea-floor in search of a methane hydrate deposit and practice filling the glass hydrate chambers in preparation for our gas substitution experiment. We began by looking at sites we explored in...



Day 5 – Pitstop in Newport, Oregon...
July 11, 2009

The R/V Western Flyer arrived at the Hatfield Marine Station dock today at 0800. An overcast sky, low clouds and fog with a light drizzle greeted us at the dock...



Day 4 – If it is Friday, then it is time to get to work...
July 10, 2009

A hagfish comes by to inspect our last pore-water measurement of the day. We attributed his haughty attitude to a lack of understanding of the subtleties of marine geochemistry. Or, maybe he just didn’t like the hydrogen sulfide we had stirred up. It is hard to tell with hagfish...



Day 3 – If it is cloudy then this must be Oregon…
July 9, 2009

With our dive site at Hydrate Ridge less than a day’s steam away, preparations to deploy the elevator and launch ROV Ricketts intensified today. Peter Walz spent most of the morning...



Day 2 – The weather started getting rough…
July 8, 2009

During the night the winds increased as anticipated. Unfortunately, this resulted in rougher seas and we were forced to slow down. With all of the banging and bouncing during the night...



Day 1 – We depart…
July 7, 2009

At 12:04 PM the last of the mooring lines was released and we began the slow process of backing-out of our dock slip and heading out of Moss Landing Harbor. Capt Brian Ackerman did a fine job as we...






Leg 1
 Equipment

R/V Western Flyer

The R/V Western Flyer is a small water-plane area twin hull (SWATH) oceanographic research vessel measuring 35.6 meters long and 16.2 meters wide. It was designed and constructed for MBARI to serve as the support vessel for ROV operations. Her missions include the Monterey Bay as well as extended cruises to Hawaii, Gulf of California and the Pacific Northwest.

ROV Doc Ricketts

ROV Doc Ricketts is MBARI's next generation ROV. The system breaks new ground in providing an integrated unmanned submersible research platform, with many powerful features providing efficient, reliable and precise sampling and data collection in a wide range of missions.

Laser Raman spectrometer DORISS2

By bouncing a specially tuned laser beam off of almost any object or substance—solid, liquid, or gas—a laser Raman spectrometer can provide information about that object's chemical composition and molecular structure.


Push cores

A push-core looks like a clear plastic tube with a rubber handle on one end. Just as its name implies, the push core is pushed down into loose sediment using ROV Tiburon's manipulator arm. As the sediment fills up the core, water exits out the top through one-way valves. When the core is pulled up again, these valves close, which (most of the time) keeps the sediment from sliding out of the core tube. When we bring these cores back to the surface, we typically look for living animals and organic material in the sediments.

Vibracores

Vibracoring is a common technique used to obtain samples from water-saturated sediment. These corers work by attaching a motor that induces high frequency vibrations in the core liner that in turn liquefies the sediment directly around the core cutter, enabling it to pass through the sediment with little resistance.


CO2 accumulator

Carbon dioxide is a liquid at the temperatures and pressures on the seafloor where hydrates are known to occur. Because of this, one cannot simply take down a tank of gas and expect to be able to release it at depth. Instead, the CO2 piston accumulator is used to deliver precise volumes of liquid CO,2 to experiments on the seafloor. The valves are operated hydraulically by remote control and hydraulic pressure is used to expel the liquid CO2 and deliver it to the experiments.


Heat-flow probe

MBARI's heat-flow probe is mounted on the side of the ROV Doc Ricketts inside the vertical stainless steel box. This both protects the delicate probe and provide the track so that the probe can be inserted into the sediment along a totally straight path.  The probe contains five high precision platinum sensors which are used to measure the vertical temperature gradient in the sediments. This gradient along with some knowledge of the heat capacity of the sediment allows scientists to calculate the rate of heat loss from the sediments into the ocean.


 Research Team

Peter Brewer
Senior Scientist, MBARI

Peter has taken part in more than 30 deep-sea cruises, and has served as chief scientist on major expeditions and on more than 90 ROV dives with MBARI ships and vehicles. His research interests include the ocean geochemistry of the greenhouse gases. He has devised novel techniques both for measurement and for extracting the oceanic signatures of global change. At MBARI his current interests include the geochemistry of gas hydrates, and the evolution of the oceanic fossil fuel CO2 signal. He has developed novel techniques for deep ocean laser Raman spectroscopy, and for testing the principles and impacts of deep ocean CO2 injection.

Ed Peltzer
Senior Research Specialist, MBARI

Ed is an ocean chemist who has been with MBARI since 1997. He has been involved in developing instrumentation and analytical techniques to study the composition of gases in gas hydrates and deep-sea vents. He has also collaborated on the development of new instrumentation for the measurement of temperature and pH from an ROV. As the group's project manager, Ed is also responsible for expedition planning and logistics.

Peter Walz
Senior Research Technician, MBARI

Peter has worked as a research technician for a variety of scientists at MBARI. Most recently he has supported the research efforts of Dr. Peter Brewer and his interests in the ocean chemistry of greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide. Peter assists with the design, testing and deployment of the ocean going science hardware and works closely with the marine operations group to integrate new equipment to work with MBARI's ROV's.

Xin Zhang
Graduate Student, Ocean University of China & Visiting Investigator, MBARI

Xin Zhang is a Ph.D. student from the Ocean University of China and is now studying at MBARI with Peter Brewer and Bill Kirkwood. He has been involved in the development of a Deep-Sea Raman Probe for the measurement of sediment pore water geochemistry. In this expedition, he will focus on obtaining the in situ pore water Raman spectra and the collection of pore water samples for subsequent shipboard analyses by ion and gas chromatography.

Keith Hester
Conoco Phillips

Keith is currently an associate engineer with ConocoPhillips focused on natural gas hydrates. Keith received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 2007. This was followed by a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute with Dr. Peter Brewer. His research interests include the use of carbon dioxide to replace methane in natural hydrates.

John Ripmeester
Principal Research Officer, Materials Structure and Function Group
National Research Council Canada

John has been a staff member at the NRC since 1974, first with the Division of Chemistry, then with the Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences upon its establishment in 1991. His research focuses on the chemical applications of solid state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, the development of multi-technique approaches to the characterization of materials, supramolecular chemistry, porous materials, clathrates, gas hydrates, and other guest-host materials. He has nearly 500 publications and six patents and is often an invited speaker at special events.