Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
MBARI Research
Marine Technology research at MBARI —
Instruments for environmental monitoring and chemical analysis

MBARI engineers and scientists have developed a variety of amazing instruments that can perform chemical analysis and even DNA analysis in the ocean. In some cases, they adapted laboratory-based instruments for use in the deep sea. In other cases, the instruments were developed specifically for MBARI's use but have applications far beyond oceanographic research.

The environmental sample processor (ESP)

The Environmental sample processor is an automated molecular biology laboratory that fits in a pressure housing about the size of a garbage can. Floating in the open ocean or moored in the deep sea, it can detect microbes and other tiny living organisms using their DNA. It can also detect other biologically important compounds such as toxins generated during harmful algal blooms.

    MBARI lead researcher in this field:
    Chris Scholin (Molecular Biologist)

Free-ocean carbon dioxide enrichment (FOCE) experiments
Originally designed to test the effects of ocean acidification on deep-sea animals, FOCE experiments are being used to assess ocean acidification on coral reefs, kelp beds, and other shallow-water habitats.
The DurFET pH monitor

A rugged pH monitoring system that works for long periods of time in saltwater, even at depths of 4,000 meters
    MBARI lead researcher in this field:
    Ken Johnson (Chemist)

The laser Raman spectrometer
By shining a specially tuned laser beam on almost any object or substance--solid, liquid, or gas--a laser Raman spectrometer allows scientists to determine the subject's chemical composition and molecular structure.
    MBARI lead researcher in this field:
    Peter Brewer (Ocean Chemist)

The in-situ ultraviolet spectrometer (ISUS)

The in-situ ultraviolet spectrometer is one of several instruments developed by MBARI chemist Ken Johnson and his research team to perform chemical analyses of seawater automatically. The ISUS is particularly good at measuring concentrations of nitrate, which acts as a fertilizer for marine algal blooms.
    MBARI lead researcher in this field:
    Ken Johnson (Chemist)

The Monterey ocean-bottom broadband (MOBB) seismometer

MBARI engineers and geologists worked with researchers at U.C. Berkeley to design and install an ultra-sensitive earthquake detector beneath the seafloor off Monterey Bay. From this location, the instrument provides a unique perspective of earthquakes on the western side of the San Andreas Fault Zone.
    MBARI principal engineer:
    Paul McGill (Electrical Engineer)

The osmosampler

This compact instrument, developed by MBARI engineer Hans Jannasch, can collect water samples continuously for up to two years. It has been used to collect fluid samples from hydrothermal vents, methane seeps, and even from boreholes in ocean crust, hundreds of meters below the seafloor.
    MBARI principal engineer:
    Hans Jannasch (Senior Research Specialist--Biogeochemical Instrumentation and Chemical Oceanography)


Last updated: Oct. 05, 2015