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Images: Let There Be Laser Light

The long-range laser spectroscopy system developed by WHOI scientist Anna Michel and colleagues is designed to measure atmospheric levels of methane across long distances. The laser shoots out a beam. Some of the light is absorbed by gas molecules in the air. The more gas present in the air, the less light is detected at the far end. (Illustration by Eric Taylor, WHOI Graphic Services )
Scientists at WHOI are developing laser spectroscopy systems that can measure critical gases that provide evidence of changes occurring in the environment. They are building systems that can take measurements over long distances—across lakes or thawing Arctic permafrost fields, for example. They are testing systems that can work under water to measure methane and other gases from hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, thawing methane hydrates, and volcanoes. And they are adapting these types of sensors to operate on autonomous vehicles such as the JetYak and remotely operated vehicles such as Jason. (Illustration by Jack Cook, WHOI Graphic Services)
WHOI scientists are developing an underwater laser spectroscopy system that can be used to measure gases dissolved in fluids and bubbles. The device was designed to measure how much light is absorbed by compounds in air, so the compounds must be in gaseous form for the device to work under water. To extract the compounds as gases, the device passes seawater past a membrane. (Photo courtesy of the Ocean Exploration Trust)
In 2014, a funnel was used at Kick' em Jenny, a highly active underwater volcano in the Caribbean to collect bubbles for analysis with a laser spectrometer. The researchers were measuring the isotopic composition of carbon dioxide bubbles emerging from the volcano. (Photo courtesy of the Ocean Exploration Trust)

WHOI scientists deployed a deep sea laser spectrometer in a brine pool in the Gulf of Mexico, known as the "Jacuzzi of Despair," in 2015. The Jacuzzi is about five times saltier than overlying seawater and contains high concentrations of methane.

(Photo courtesy of the Ocean Exploration Trust)

A hose and reel system was used to take fluid samples from the "Jacuzzi of Despair" brine pool in the Gulf of Mexico. The sampling line was lowered from a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to a depth of 19 meters in the brine pool. This allowed the researchers to make in situ measurements of fluids in the Jacuzzi.

(Photo courtesy of the Ocean Exploration Trust)
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