Seafloor Mapping Lab
Visualizing the seafloor like never before
Dave Caress, Principal Engineer
Mapping the seafloor to image its structure and character is a fundamental type of observation used in oceanographic research. The MBARI Seafloor Mapping team seeks to achieve efficient surveys that are spatially accurate and repeatable, in complex terrain, and in the deep ocean. This work has been an important part of MBARI development and research for over two decades. Since 2004 we have used Dorado AUVs optimized for mapping to collect 1-meter (3.3 feet) scale topography, backscatter, and subbottom profiler data. Starting in 2011 we have used MBARI’s ROVs as platforms for low altitude surveys that yield 1-centimeter (0.4 inch) resolution topography combined with 2-millimeter (0.08 inch) scale color photography. Whether at 1-meter scale or 1-centimeter scale, with repeated surveys our mapping tools have the capability to quantitatively measure change on the seafloor.
The mapping vehicle and software development work is enabling innovative science through collaboration with research groups inside and outside the institute and enabling socially relevant observations. Research projects include sediment transport through through submarine canyons, volcanic and hydrothermal processes on active spreading centers, gas seeps and mud volcanoes, assessing seismic hazards, habitat mapping, iceberg mapping, and renewable energy site surveys.
- MBARI news release: Listening to an underwater eruption
- MBARI news release: Hundreds of hydrothermal chimneys discovered on the Endeavour Segment
- MBARI annual report: Mapping icebergs
- MBARI annual report: Visualizing fine details of the deep seafloor
- MBARI news release: MBARI researchers help map and scout for hydrothermal vents in Gulf of California
- MBARI news release: Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents
- MBARI news release: MBARI’s seafloor maps provide new information about 2015 eruption at Axial Seamount
- MBARI news release: MBARI researchers discover deepest known high-temperature hydrothermal vents in Pacific Ocean
- Cruise blog: Pescadero Basin 2018 cruise aboard R/V Falkor
- Cruise blog: Axial Seamount 2018 cruise aboard R/V Kilo Moana
- Cruise blog: Gulf of California 2015 cruise aboard R/V Rachel Carson – Seafloor Mapping
- YouTube video: High tech robots reveal secrets of the deep
Seafloor Mapping Group
Mapping AUV Operations
Ocean Imaging project
The project team is much larger. See all who are involved.
The MB-System team is larger. See all who are involved.