Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
 2009 projects
Benthic research

Continental Margin and Submarine Canyon Processes

Project Manager: Bill Ussler
Lead Scientist: Charlie Paull
Lead Engineer: Brett Hobson

Charlie Paull’s research group will use the mapping AUV D. Allan B. and the ROV Doc Ricketts to investigate hydrate features in the northeast Pacific near the proposed location of the Ocean Observatories Initiative infrastructure. His goal is to understand the processes that form the distinct microtopography associated with gas-rich seafloor environments. Paull’s group will also experiment with Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL), a new technique for determining how long it takes for sand to move through Monterey Canyon. The principle is that natural gamma radiation damages quartz crystals and these imperfections anneal only when the samples are exposed to sunlight. Thus if conventional stratigraphic techniques indicate that a layer of sand was deposited 100 years ago in the lower canyon, OSL can determine whether that sand came from the shore or whether it had been stored for some time below sea level in the upper canyon prior to moving the rest of the way down the canyon. This work, along with continued repeat mapping of the canyon, promises to illuminate the processes which move large amounts of material in distinct and as yet unpredictable large events down Monterey Canyon. 

Last updated: Apr. 20, 2009