Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

2010 projects

Benthic processes

Ocean Chemistry of the Greenhouse Gases

Project Manager: Edward Peltzer
Lead Scientist: Peter Brewer
Lead Engineer: Bill Kirkwood
Project website

Peter Brewer continues to expand on his studies of the impact of ocean acidification, the definition of which has now been expanded to include the complex chemistry of the changing partial pressures of carbon-dioxide and oxygen which governs life processes in the oceans. Moving on from the initial work on the thermodynamics of the problem, in 2010 the group will develop a coherent theory on how life processes are affected. For example, they will quantify the stress on embryonic phases that are limited to exporting CO2 via diffusing processes across cell walls as the CO2 in the environment increases.  Brewer’s group will also participate in the Western Flyer/Doc Ricketts expedition to the Santa Monica gas vents in Southern California to build upon the success of the 2009 experiment in which methane gas was successfully extracted from gas hydrates using nitrogen gas. During this cruise, they will also deploy the newly developed laser Raman pore-water probe to measure in situ concentrations of methane, sulfide, and sulfate in the sediments.

Benthic Biology and Ecology

Project Manager and Lead Scientist: Jim Barry
Project website

This project team’s investigation of deep-sea organisms and communities involves two themes: the biology of the high-CO2 ocean and factors influencing animal distribution and abundance in highly disturbed environments subjected to turbidity flows, such as Monterey Canyon. The ocean acidification studies will make use of controlled experiments in aquaria using animals at depths shallower than 1,500 meters with the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and in situ experiments using benthic respirometers for deeper animals. In collaboration with Charlie Paull, the canyon studies will monitor the succession of organisms that recolonize a site after disturbance. Part of this work will be done using MOOS mooring technology. These data could become part of the Biodiversity Initiative.

Submarine Volcanism

Project Manager: Jenny Paduan
Lead Scientist: Dave Clague
Project website

Major new field efforts for 2010 will be the mapping of the Davidson, Rodriguez, and Taney Seamounts offshore California with the D. Allan B. mapping autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) during two cruises. Goals are to study caldera formation and explosive eruptions. Clague will also be following up on the wealth of data obtained with the combined ROV Jason II and AUV D. Allan B. expedition to the Lau Basin in May, 2009. The video data will be processed, rock samples will be analyzed for bubbles trapped in the glasses, and mapping data will be processed. This project will also involve a major synthesis of bathymetric, video, still imagery, and sample data from the Endeavour segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge. This will provide an opportunity to merge data from other institutions and images and samples from ROV Tiburon onto well-navigated maps from MBARI’s D. Allan B. in a seamless manner to answer some high-priority science questions resulting from a RIDGE workshop.

Continental Margin and Submarine Processes

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

The focus of this project will be to dive on targets in Southern California identified on maps from the mapping AUV data, including the Palos Verdes Fault to determine its hazard potential, a gas hydrate anticline to perform a novel near-bottom seismic experiment, and crescent-shaped bedforms in active submarine canyons. Investigations will also continue in Monterey Canyon, including optically stimulated luminescence dating of sand grains to determine the rate at which sand is transported down the canyon, acoustic sediment tracking, repeat mapping, and event response.

Molecular Ecology and Evolution of Marine and Aquatic Organisms

Project Manager: Shannon Johnson
Lead Scientist: Robert Vrijenhoek
Lead Engineer: Larry Bird
Project website

The Molecular Ecology Group's goal is to develop robust molecular markers and probes for the identification of marine taxa and then integrate them with new MBARI technologies, such as the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) for sampling marine biodiversity. The group is participating in both the Controlled, Agile, and Novel Observing Network (CANON) Initiative, sampling marine zooplankton, and the Biodiversity Initiative, concentrating on invertebrates in the benthic boundary layer. In collaboration with MBARI Adjunct Edie Widder and her Eye-in-the-Sea camera system on the MARS cabled observatory, Vrijenhoek is creating a long-term observatory to observe colonization and decomposition of mammalian carcasses. MBARI is partnering with the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop a minimally invasive biopsy sampler for fish tissue to be deployed with the Eye-in-the-Sea. In addition, the ESP will be used to test hypotheses about modes of transport of the endemic organisms involved in the decomposition of the mammal carcasses. 

Pelagic-Benthic Coupling

Project Manager and Lead Engineer: Alana Sherman
Lead Scientist:
Ken Smith
Project website

As the Benthic Rover moves from development to deployment, the system will be used for long time-series monitoring of sediment community oxygen consumption at Station M offshore of Central California. Automated Visual Event Detection (AVED) video processing software will be used to process still images from the time-lapse camera to detect and quantify the arrival of detrital aggregates, bioturbation, and faunal activity. The team proposes to incorporate the imaging AUV and Lagrangian sediment traps into the time series at Station M.

Seafloor Imaging and Seafloor Imaging of Marine Protected Areas Annotation

Project Manager: Steve Rock
Lead Scientist: Jim Barry
Lead Engineer: Brian Schlining

In a follow-up to their work on using ROVs to accomplish baseline aerial mapping of four sites within Soquel Canyon and Portuguese Ledge Marine Protected Areas, Steve Rock and Jim Barry will spend one year assessing whether area-based surveys contain sufficient additional information over traditional linear surveys to warrant their effort and cost. The second goal is to refine the Seafloor Imaging of Marine Protected Areas (SIMPA) annotation tool that avoids double-counting of animals in overlapping video frames, in response to feedback from the research technicians in the MBARI Video Lab.

Last updated: Mar. 06, 2012