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Ocean Imaging Expedition

Ocean Imaging Expedition

Chief Scientist David Caress
R/V Western Flyer
March 7-12, 2017

MBARI’s Ocean Imaging Group will conduct low-altitude seafloor surveys as part of the Coordinated Canyon Experiment, a two-year international effort aimed at obtaining a comprehensive view of sediment movement within Monterey Canyon. Dozens of sophisticated instruments placed in the canyon have been recording sediment-transport events for more than a year. The largest such event, in January of last year, was so powerful it carried heavy equipment five kilometers (approximately three miles) down the canyon.

By imaging and mapping the seafloor repeatedly during the course of the experiment, the researchers can see, in great detail, just where the seafloor morphology has changed as a result of these events. During this expedition, the team will first survey the area around one of the instrument nodes at a depth of 1,850 meters. They will then move farther down the canyon to survey three sites the researchers are familiar with to see how they have changed, if at all, and whether the effects of the large event of last January can be detected at a depth of 2,850 meters.

The surveys will combine lidar, multibeam sonar, stereo cameras, strobes, and an inertial navigation system (INS), flying just three meters above the seafloor. This imaging system is mounted on the remotely operated vehicle Doc Ricketts, which will run the surveys all day. When the vehicle is returned to the ship at the end of the day, the research team will work late into the night to process the new data.

About Ocean Imaging Expedition

In early March, MBARI's Ocean Imaging Group conducted low-altitude seafloor surveys aboard the R/V Western Flyer as part of the Coordinated Canyon Experiment.