Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
2004 projects
Benthic Processes

Continental margin processes

Project Manager: Bill Ussler
Lead Scientist: Charlie Paull

This project supports the core activities of MBARI scientists who study processes associated with continental margin development. In 2004, this effort will be divided between two activities: 

(1) We have been funded by NSF (National Science Foundation) to conduct a giant-piston coring cruise for the purpose of measuring sulfate gradients and the gas content of sediments under the sole of the Støregga Slide, off Norway. This is the largest known continental margin landslide in the world. Whether gas hydrates were involved in the sediment failure and whether gas escaped from the slide are key scientific questions. The coring cruise is scheduled to occur on the R/V Knorr during mid-summer of 2004, when access to high latitudes is best. This coring cruise will provide essential background geochemical and sedimentological data for Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) drilling of the Storegga Slide in 2005 or 2006. One of the major efforts during the IODP drilling leg is likely to be use of the TPC (temperature, pressure, conductivity) tool, developed jointly by MBARI and the ODP, to quantify the relative amounts of sediment gas.

(2) Over the last three years we have collected field data on the fluid and gas composition of sediments from Monterey Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, during two legs of the Gulf of California expedition. We also conducted an NSF-supported field program in the Arctic this summer (2003), targeting methane gas venting from pingo-like features on the Arctic Shelf. These efforts all involve our continuing efforts to understand sulfate gradients in gas- and gas-hydrate-rich areas. While we are making progress on all these studies, there are still laboratory analyses and manuscript preparation tasks that need to be completed.

Last updated: Feb. 05, 2009