Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

2012 projects

Benthic processes

Benthic Biology and Ecology

Project leads: Jim Barry, Craig Okuda
Project manager: Jim Barry
Project website

The main focus of Jim Barry’s research is laboratory and field studies of marine animals and the effects of ocean acidification, warming, and hypoxia on their physiology.

Benthic Exchange Events

Project lead and manager: Jim Bellingham

A field program in collaboration with the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories will measure dynamics events on the continental shelf in Monterey Bay. Stations will include a central benthic site and an offshore, moored profiler with across-shelf autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) surveys spanning those fixed stations. The strategy is to directly observe benthic exchange from the seafloor through the water column to the surface, and across the shelf. A new “hybrid” turbulence package developed by NPS to measure turbulence will be deployed.

Continental Margin Processes

Project leads: Charles Paull
Project manager: Roberto Gwiazda
Project website

Understanding the geological processes that shape continental margins is the overarching goal of this project. The team will conduct detailed seafloor surveys along the transform faults in the Gulf of California. These faults accommodate the tectonic movements between the North American and Pacific plates and are the marine equivalent of the San Andreas Fault. A goal of the program is to characterize how sediments are deformed along these faults and how frequently these faults rupture. The surveys using MBARI’s mapping AUV will be followed by ROV observation and sampling. The team also plans to document the nature of fluids that may be seeping out onto the seafloor along these faults and the role that these fluids play in altering the seafloor environment. The team will also continue exploring sites in the Beaufort Sea, on the margin of the Arctic Ocean, where active gas venting is occurring. The objective is to establish if the escaping gas is coming from permafrost thawing or/and gas hydrate decomposition, stimulated by regional thermal warming. Research on the movement of sediment within the floor of Monterey Canyon will also continue. The focus will be on utilizing new technologies to generate high resolution and quantitatively correct images of the seafloor which can be compared in repeated surveys to document how the seafloor changes with time.

Endeavour Segment Integrated Study Site

Project lead: Dave Clague

This investigation is developing whole system conceptual models for the Endeavour Ridge integrated study site that will link magmatic, volcanic, tectonic and hydrothermal processes. In collaboration with colleagues at the University of Washington and University of California, the MBARI team will synthesize bathymetric data, sidescan sonar, video and digital still images, and the geochemistry of hundreds of samples.

Fine-scale Crustal Accretion Processes

Project lead: Dave Clague

The Clague lab will investigate fine-scale crustal accretion processes and rates of magma supply and replenishment at the southern Juan de Fuca Ridge neovolcanic zone. The primary objective of this National Science Foundation-funded project is to use AUV mapping data, lava chemistry, and lava flow ages to evaluate the relationships of time, volume, and chemical compositions of lavas at three sites of historic eruptions on the Juan de Fuca Ridge.

Ocean Chemistry of Greenhouse Gases

Project leads: Peter Brewer, Bill Kirkwood
Project manager: Edward Peltzer
Project website

The Brewer lab will use laser Raman spectroscopy to measure geochemical properties of sediments in the Gulf of California. They plan to work on enhancing the laser Raman sensitivity for dissolved components of the carbonate system and to establish criteria for the next generation system. The deep Free Ocean CO2 Enrichment (FOCE) system will be used to conduct a low-oxygen experiment on the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) node.

Pelagic-Benthic Coupling

Project leads: Alana Sherman, Ken Smith
Project manager: Alana Sherman
Project website

The Benthic Rover will be used to assess sediment community oxygen consumption at Station M offshore of Central California. Concurrent time-lapse photography of the seafloor will be recorded for comparison. The mapping AUV, sedimentation event sensor, and Lagrangian sediment traps will also be used for time-series measurements at the same location.

Submarine Volcanism

Project lead: Dave Clague
Project manager: Jenny Paduan
Project website

Clague’s team will continue the research that combines use of high-resolution bathymetry with remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dive observation and sampling. In addition to their proposed work in the Gulf of California, they will be processing multibeam data from the mapping autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) and preparing and analyzing samples from dives conducted in late 2011 on the Juan de Fuca Ridge and the northwest Hawaiian Chain.

Last updated: Mar. 12, 2012