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Wind Farm Expedition 2019

On its way to the seafloor.

Wind Farm Expedition 2019

This map highlights (red oval) the study area for a potential wind farm offshore Morro Bay, California.

MBARI Expedition #455

Expedition goal: Investigate the activity of submarine channels, gullies, and pockmarks as well as begin conducting post-lay impacts of submarine telecommunications cables.

Expedition dates: February 4 – February 14, 2019

Ship: R/V Western Flyer

Research technology:  ROV Doc Ricketts, vibracores, push cores

Expedition chief scientist: Charles Paull

The cruise will be focused in a large area offshore Morro Bay, California, where a potential wind farm is being considered. The wind farm will have up to 100 floating wind turbines more than 100 meters tall. The turbines will be anchored to the seafloor in more than 500 meters water depth and will connect into the electric power grid with submarine cables. This area is targeted for two reasons: due to the availability of an existing power distribution system onshore, which is currently fed by Morro Bay and Diablo Canyon power plants, but will be left underutilized when these plants are decommissioned; and its favorable average wind speeds.

Presently, very little is known about the conditions on the seafloor in this area. In fact, much of the area has only been sparsely mapped with multibeam systems at low resolution. Clearly, before any decision can be made about the environmental impact of such a facility, this knowledge gap needs to be filled. MBARI is now participating in a collaborative effort involving the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the US Geological Survey, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to rectify this knowledge gap. Our initial goal is to conduct basic observational studies to document the tectonic setting, sedimentation rates, morphological features, and seafloor texture. We will also begin conducting studies of post-lay impacts of submarine telecommunications cables.

About Wind Farm Expedition 2019

February 4 to 14, 2019 – MBARI's Geological Changes group is investigating the activity of submarine channels, gullies, and pockmarks as well as beginning to conduct post-lay impacts of submarine telecommunications cables.