Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Submarine Volcanism
Sampling gear

Equipment we use for collecting samples of rocks, sediment, water, and animals

ROV Doc Ricketts

The remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Doc Ricketts is our most crucial piece of equipment. It is shown on the closed moonpool doors of our ship, the R/V Western Flyer, just about to be launched. 

Doc Ricketts launch

ROV Tiburon

ROV Tiburon has now been retired. It is shown in the moon pool area of the ship, being launched .


Benthic toolsled

Manipulator arm (upper left)

Sample drawer with partitions (bottom)

The benthic toolsled is attached to the bottom of the ROV for our geology dives. Its components are the manipulator arm and the sample drawer. The sample drawer is shown open on deck, full of rocks. Normally it is closed when the vehicle is operating and is opened only when a sample needs to be stowed. Partitions in the drawer help us keep the rocks in order. The rocks often look alike, but the conditions and chemistries of the eruptions are different so it is important that we know where each came from. 


Suction hose (top right)

Biojars (along front of sample drawer)

A clam has just been vacuumed into the suction tube, and will be deposited into the biojar on the right by reversing the suction pump. The biojar lid will be closed with the manipulator. The white PVC has now all been painted black so it won't appear so bright in the video.


Glass suction sampler

This equipment is used to vacuum glass particles and larval animals from cracks and crevices. The carousel of small plastic jars fitted with wire mesh will be mounted in the benthic toolsled. The hose will be held by the ROV's manipulator and a suction will be drawn by the pump (out of view). 


The box fits in a partition in the sample drawer. It is shown open, with an animal being placed into it by the manipulator. When the lid is closed, the box will hold water to protect the animals inside.


Push cores on swing arm rack

A sediment core has just been taken. The core tube will be put back into its holster on the swing arm, which will then be rotated back alongside the vehicle, out of the way. Back in the lab, the sediment will be extruded from the core tube and sieved.

push-core rack

Sediment scoops

Canvas bags on a T-handle for collecting gravel or other materials that fall out of a push-core.

Scoop bag

Wax-tipped sampler

This device is used to collect volcanic glass fragments from the surface of a flow. It is held by the ROV's manipulator, which presses it on the rock with a stamping action. Fragments that break off on impact are trapped in the wax on the tip, which is melted in the lab to liberate the particles for analysis.

wax-tipped sampler

Temperature probe

Held by the ROV's manipulator, the wire on the right is placed into the fluid emitted from a hydrothermal vent to record the temperature.

temperature probe

Niskin bottles

Two water sampling bottles are hung from the side of the Tiburon. They are pictured in the closed position, full of water. They were deployed in the open position and were tripped by a command from the pilots, which flipped closed the large seals at the top and bottom. After the vehicle is on deck, water is collected by opening the small white port near the bottom.

Titanium water sampler

This is the tool we use to collect a cleaner and higher temperature water sample than with a Niskin bottle. The sampler is held in the manipulator and is opened only when triggered at the sampling location, here a hydrothermal vent. It is made of titanium so it is less reactive and is strong enough to withstand the pressure when empty.

Gas-tight water sampler

Held and triggered by the ROV's manipulator, this bottle will keep the water sample inside at the pressure at which it was collected so the gases don't escape. The gases can then be extracted in the lab.

Rock crusher

This device is used to collect volcanic glass fragments from the surface of a flow. It is made of about 450kg of lead and steel and is launched over the stern of the ship on a wire. Fragments of rock that break off of the lava flow on impact are trapped in wax-tipped cones mounted around the crusher. The wax is melted in the lab to liberate the rock particles for analysis.

Rock crusher

Rock crusher being recovered, swinging from the ship's A-frame.

Gravity corer

A gravity corer takes a 10' long core of sediment. This equipment is launched over the stern of the ship on a wire, and the core barrel is driven into the sediment by the momentum of the lead weights attached to it.

gravity corer

Mapping AUV

Autonomous underwater vehicle equipped with multibeam and sidescan sonars and sub-bottom profiler to map the sea floor with very high resolution.

mapping AUV

| Hot spots | Mid-ocean ridges | Seamounts | Margin |

| Publication list | Cruise logs | FAQ, resources | Site map |

Questions? Comments? Please contact Jenny Paduan
Last updated: Mar. 15, 2012