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Benthic processes

Canyon dynamics
Project Manager: Bill Ussler
Lead Scientist: Charlie Paull
Lead Engineer: Gene Massion

This project seeks to gain an understanding of the sediment transport processes that occur within Monterey Canyon. In 2001 we initiated work on four complementary approaches: (1) observe and sample the materials that are within the canyon; (2) Monitor the physical conditions by deploying instruments within the canyon; (3) conduct repeat mapping to document changes in seafloor morphology within the canyon; and (4) conduct event response cruises to characterize individual sediment transport events.

A BIN (Benthic Interconnect Node) and two RINs (Remote Instrument Nodes) were deployed and the laying of a connecting cable was scheduled for September 2002. Unfortunately, the two RINs were moved by a large sediment transport event within the axis of the canyon sometime after early June. As a result, we delayed the cable laying and will instead attempt to learn more about sediment debris flows by deploying a suite of simpler RINs.

In winter of 2002-2003, an array of five instruments will be placed every 100 meters of water depth along the axis of the upper canyon to provide fundamental data on the passage of energy and material under ambient conditions within the canyon. This experiment will represent one of the most detailed experiments that have ever been attempted in a submarine canyon. It will also test whether fully instrumented RINs can  remain serviceable deployed in the canyon axis for any appreciable period of time.

We will begin the repeat mapping activities using the Reson multibeam system. We will also remain prepared to launch event response cruises. The only new effort will be to investigate the nearly persistent turbidity layer that resides in the lower few meters of the canyon axis. This effort will be based entirely on analysis of the CTD/transmissometer data collected during the more than 10 years of ROV dives within the canyon that already exist in the MBARI archives.