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New in situ instruments

Multi-platform water sampling and processing system
Lead Scientist: Ed DeLong
Lead Engineer: Gary Thurmond
Project Manager: Gernot Friederich


Although in situ measurement and sensing is an ultimate goal for ocean observation, there are few available sensors for quantifying many important, non-conservative chemical and biological properties of seawater. Obtaining multiple, discrete water samples for laboratory based analyses remains a critical requirement for many important science problems in chemical and biological oceanography. Indeed, this capability will be critical for calibrating and ground truthing any future in situ sensors. Currently, MBARIís ROVs are capable of taking one to two samples per dive, using standard Niskin type bottles, crudely tripped by the mechanical arm. This capability is inadequate, since multiple, discrete samples cannot be acquired on any ROV dive, compromising science payoff in many different mission contexts. Specific science missions requiring discrete seawater sampling include midwater projects aimed at characterizing the chemistry and biology of the oxygen minimum layer, as well as benthic projects focused on the geology, chemistry and biology of methane and hydrocarbon seeps. Therefore, we propose the completion of design, fabrication and field testing of a seawater sampling device for deployment on MBARI ROVs and other platforms.

At present, water sampling technology in oceanography is dominated by relatively large volume samplers that can take no more than 24 samples per deployment. In addition most of these samplers require considerable time for set-up and sample extraction. Several years ago, a group at MBARI initiated a project to design a tool to obtain up to 100 small volume samples. It was envisioned that this sampler could be mounted on a variety of platforms such as CTDs, ROVs, AUVs, drifters and moorings. A prototype of this instrument has been constructed and has undergone preliminary tests on the ROV Ventana.