Access to the Sea Fund

Funded Research

2014 Funded Proposals

 

The RAFOS Ocean Acoustic Monitoring (ROAM) Tag: A New Tool for Tracking Marine Megafauna

Carmin Braun and Simon Thorrold

The challenges inherent in tracking marine animals in a vast, opaque ocean have plagued ocean ecologists for decades. Although recent advances in satellite telemetry techniques have yielded remarkable insight into vertical behavior and large-scale movements of marine megafauna, our understanding of population connectivity, biophysical drivers of behavior, and interactions among individuals are constrained by our inability to accurately geolocate individual fish. We are currently limited to light-level geolocation that exhibits poor accuracy (±100-200 km; ~10,000km2) and unrealistic depth constraints (< 100m) for those species that exhibit significant time at depth and avoid the surface-air interface. We propose to solve the geolocation problem by using a proven oceanographic technology repurposed with a new animal-borne tag. The RAFOS Ocean Acoustic Monitoring (ROAM) tag builds on the decades of knowledge physical oceanographers have developed to track subsurface drifters with acoustics. We have miniaturized this same technology and potted it into an animal-borne tag. Thus, we now seek to first deploy it on an APEX profiling float to assess its ability to acquire improved geolocations up to four orders of magnitude (±1 km 2) over existing technologies. Upon validation of this new tag on a drifting platform, we will test its applicability to swordfish as a model species that has proved difficult to track across its range. The improved spatial resolution of this technique over existing tags will allow correlation to physical features like mesoscale eddies and biological phenomena like spawning aggregations. This research provides a novel use for a proven technology that will transform the study of marine megafauna and provide crucial new insight into their behavior. This knowledge is necessary for the development of rigorous conservation and sustainable management strategies for these populations. Finally, it will enable a strong collaborative effort among scientists, post-doctoral scholars, and students at WHOI and facilitate sea-going research for individuals in the group.

High-resolution sampling of the South Java upwelling during the SE monsoon

Cabell Davis

Abstract A fascinating suite of climatic and oceanographic interactions drives biological productivity in the East Indian Ocean. The upwelling system south of Java is the focus of a new research initiative we are developing as part of the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE2) planned for 2015-2020. This system is especially intriguing as it is not a typical upwelling like the classic ones of Peru, California, and Benguela, which are all bounded by a solid coastline. The Java upwelling occurs along the porous coastline of southern Indonesia, which is the exit region of the Indonesian Through-flow (ITF). SE monsoon winds drive Ekman upwelling along this coastline. The ITF outflow seeds this coastal upwelling system with plankton species, thus providing upstream source populations that mix to an unknown extent  with local plankton, the combined species assemblage then blooming to various degrees in the upwelling zone. The water properties and composition of plankton species in the ITF outflow varies seasonally and interannually, thus influencing the biological response to the upwelling. This unique interaction between the porous coastal sources of plankton and those in the coastal upwelling has not yet been studied. In addition, this ITF outflow carries the upwelling-enhanced plankton well offshore into the main spawning region for the southern Bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) between Java and Australia.

In developing a large-scale program for this region, a pilot cruise will take place this September 2014 to obtain preliminary data on the Java upwelling, including the multi-scale variability in the plankton and hydrography. The chief scientist has invited the PI to participate in this cruise and has offered to pay all travel and shipping costs. For the present proposal to  WHOI Access to the Sea, the PI is requesting salary support to participate in this cruise. This is  a great opportunity for the PI to obtain preliminary data in this key area and establish a place in this new program. The PI proposes to use the Video Plankton Recorder to obtain high-resolution data on plankton taxa and hydrography in the ITF outflow straits and Java upwelling zone, including the downstream mesoscale and submesoscale milieu. This work will be done with collaborators studying hydrography and currents, chemistry (nutrients, carbonate system), plankton species (net and bottle counts with molecular analysis), and fish. The high-resolution multi-scale VPR data will provide key insights into the plankton composition, abundance, and biomass in relation to hydrography and circulation. The PI will work with collaborators in collection and analysis of plankton species from the net and bottle samples and molecular analyses. Studying the changes in plankton species composition from molecular data, in combination with high-resolution VPR data, is an important new direction for the PI’s research. This cruise is critical for further development of the larger program (2015-2020).

A single-actuated propulsion and control system enabling a low-cost autonomous underwater vehicle

Jeffrey Kaeli and Thomas Austin

Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) have enhanced our ability to survey and sample the ocean environment, but the cost and complexity of many modern propeller]driven vehicles is a hindrance to their wide acceptance into the scientific community. We propose to develop and test a new propulsion system based on varying the speed of an asymmetric propeller to generate a both thrust and a variable turning moment from a single actuator. Protected by a provisional patent, this concept will greatly reduce the cost and complexity of an AUV while improving reliability and endurance as well, enabling the production of a low]cost vehicle and hence dramatically increasing “Access to the Sea” for researchers. We estimate that this vehicle would have an endurance of 15 hours at 3 knots with alkaline batteries.

The requested funds would supplement our own internal laboratory discretionary funds to develop and demonstrate a working prototype. First, we will use internal funds to fabricate a wirelessly controlled test bed vehicle to characterize the propulsion concept in a test tank. The funds from this proposal would then be used to convert this test bed into an operational AUV by integrating a newly developed low]power REMUS core electronics board and several low]cost oceanographic sensors.  We will demonstrate the AUV’s operational capabilities by autonomously tracking an acoustic pinger towed from a small vessel, a useful behavior for monitoring sharks and marine mammals. By leveraging years of government investment in AUV technology with internal funding opportunities, we can use this platform to generate interest and excitement with external funding agencies and organizations to develop and document a production]ready design that can be mass] produced, dramatically increasing “Access to the Sea” for the scientific research community.

Blue whales of the Gulf of Corcovado; an investigation into the ecology and status of a discrete population of blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) in Patagonia, Chile

Dr. Michael Moore

Abstract Blue whales are known principally by two contrasting accolades, firstly, as being the largest animal to have ever lived on Earth and secondly, as having been hunted to near extinction during twentieth century whaling. During the whaling era over four thousand animals were caught in Chilean waters alone. The species has been slow to recover from almost total decimation and hence a valuable discovery was made in 1993, when a small blue whale population of 232 individuals was found in the Gulf of Corcovado in the Chiloense Ecoregion of Southern Chile. Genetic, acoustic and morphometric studies indicate that these blue whales are part of a wider Southeast Pacific population that is distinct from both the Antarctic (B. musculus intermedia) and “pygmy” (B. musculus brevicauda) blue whale subspecies. The proposed work aims to employ innovative approaches to address questions associated with population size, diving behavior and body condition of individuals in this apparently discrete population, to better understand its ecology and conservation status. The following approaches will be used: deploying DTAGs on blue whales to accurately measure diving behavior and assess buoyancy by analyzing drift phases of dives; employing a cost effective and innovative unmanned aerial photo system (UAPS) to conduct photogrammetry to quantify body condition of free-ranging blue whales; and making abundance estimates using combined passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) and vocal rates of individuals collected using DTAGs. The proposed work is directly relevant to several goals of the Access to the Sea program. It will take place in a remote location where little research has been carried out. Photogrammetry via UAPS is a new technique in need of testing and evaluation. The use and scope of UAPS capabilities will be thoroughly tested as a means of providing a new, cost-effective, at-sea research tool. In addition, the use of accelerometer data for caller identification is a new technique that would benefit from additional groundtruthing by analyzing data from simultaneously tagged whales. Overall, the proposed work promises to provide unique insights by combining the cutting-edge technologies of UAPS and DTAGs to study population size, diving behavior and body condition of an endangered whale species.

Abstract Participation in a French-led expedition to the western South Pacific to study Trichodesmium

Benjamin Van Mooy and Andreas Krupke

Cyanobacteria of the genus Trichodesmium play an important role in the ocean because they fix nitrogen, a process that transforms the nitrogen in air into a valuable nutrient. When integrated over ocean-basin and multi-year scales, Trichodesmium are major source of nitrogen to the open ocean, which ultimately supports primary production that drives food-webs. The western South Pacific Ocean is thought to be a hotbed for nitrogen-fixing organisms, and yet the role of Trichodesmium in this environment is not well-constrained. The proposed project would allow a WHOI Postdoctoral Investigator to take advantage of an opportunity to join a cruise to the western South Pacific that is focused almost exclusively on nitrogen fixation. Aboard the cruise, the postdoc will conduct experiments that are complementary to recent, NSF-funded work conducted in the North Atlantic Ocean. This cruise could quite possibly be a once-in-a-career chance for the postdoc to make contemporaneous observations of Trichodesmium in two distinct ocean basins. The proposed project will advance our understanding of the global role of nitrogen fixation, while giving an early-career oceanographer a unique opportunity to conduct novel research and expand his international network.

High-resolution sampling of the South Java upwelling during the SE monsoon

Dr. Cabell Davis

Abstract A fascinating suite of climatic and oceanographic interactions drives biological productivity in the East Indian Ocean. The upwelling system south of Java is the focus of a new research initiative we are developing as part of the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE2) planned for 2015-2020. This system is especially intriguing as it is not a typical upwelling like the classic ones of Peru, California, and Benguela, which are all bounded by a solid coastline. The Java upwelling occurs along the porous coastline of southern Indonesia, which is the exit region of the Indonesian Through-flow (ITF). SE monsoon winds drive Ekman upwelling along this coastline. The ITF outflow seeds this coastal upwelling system with plankton species, thus providing upstream source populations that mix to an unknown extent  with local plankton, the combined species assemblage then blooming to various degrees in the upwelling zone. The water properties and composition of plankton species in the ITF outflow varies seasonally and interannually, thus influencing the biological response to the upwelling. This unique interaction between the porous coastal sources of plankton and those in the coastal upwelling has not yet been studied. In addition, this ITF outflow carries the upwelling-enhanced plankton well offshore into the main spawning region for the southern Bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) between Java and Australia. In developing a large-scale program for this region, a pilot cruise will take place this September 2014 to obtain preliminary data on the Java upwelling, including the multi-scale variability in the plankton and hydrography. The chief scientist has invited the PI to participate in this cruise and has offered to pay all travel and shipping costs. For the present proposal to  WHOI Access to the Sea, the PI is requesting salary support to participate in this cruise. This is  a great opportunity for the PI to obtain preliminary data in this key area and establish a place in this new program. The PI proposes to use the Video Plankton Recorder to obtain high-resolution data on plankton taxa and hydrography in the ITF outflow straits and Java upwelling zone, including the downstream mesoscale and submesoscale milieu. This work will be done with collaborators studying hydrography and currents, chemistry (nutrients, carbonate system), plankton species (net and bottle counts with molecular analysis), and fish. The high-resolution multi-scale VPR data will provide key insights into the plankton composition, abundance, and biomass in relation to hydrography and circulation. The PI will work with collaborators in collection and analysis of plankton species from the net and bottle samples and molecular analyses. Studying the changes in plankton species composition from molecular data, in combination with high-resolution VPR data, is an important new direction for the PI’s research. This cruise is critical for further development of the larger program (2015-2020).

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2012 Funded Proposals

 

Marine phytoplankton are responsible for the net primary production of nearly 50 Pg (1015) of carbon per year, which is approximately 50% of the total primary production on earth. Marine primary production drives the global biogeochemical cycles of carbon as well as key nutrients (e.g. nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P)). Overarching changes in the global climate stand to greatly alter both the biogeochemistry of the world’s oceans as well as the distribution and nature of primary production. The Southern Ocean is one of the largest High Nutrient-Low Chlorophyll (HNLC) regions in the ocean, representing the greatest reservoir of free macronutrients (e.g. N and P) in surface waters. Seasonal, massive phytoplankton blooms, dominated by Phaeocystis antarctica and pennate diatoms such as Fragilariopsis spp. and Pseudonitzschia spp. drive the production in the system. As the Southern Ocean is a crucial source of deep and intermediate water formation, it is a region of potentially great importance for carbon sequestration and the global carbon cycle. The forecasted large-scale climate alterations highlight the importance of a thorough comprehension of the global carbon cycle, which is tightly linked to biogeochemical cycling in the Southern Ocean. A more thorough understanding of the controls of phytoplankton bloom dynamics is crucial in the light of the changing ocean environment, yet there remain many fundamental questions surrounding phytoplankton growth dynamics in the Southern Ocean.

We have been offered berth space to participate in an upcoming series of cruises from the coast of Chile to Marguerite Bay on the west Antarctica peninsula currently scheduled for Fall (2012) and Spring (2013), providing us with a unique opportunity to apply molecular techniques that we have been developing in culture-based experiments to better understand the biogeochemical drivers of phytoplankton blooms in this critically important and difficult to access system. Using eukaryotic metatranscriptomic approaches, we will measure global gene expression in situ to derive metabolic fingerprints of the phytoplankton community along the cruise track. Coupling these samples with shipboard incubation experiments, we will quantitatively bound the differential gene expression signals observed in the field to address the following questions: 1) How do the blooming species P. antarctica, Fragilariopsis spp., and Pseudonitzschia spp. partition their biogeochemical niche space? and 2) What are the biogeochemical drivers of eukaryotic phytoplankton bloom formation in the Southern Ocean?

Our application of novel genome-enabled approaches, will identify biogeochemical drivers of bloom formation not discernable through traditional methods (e.g. incubation experiments and environmental chemical assays). Cutting-edge metatranscriptomic studies on eukaryotic phytoplankton have only been successfully done once before, and we anticipate that the access to the sea funding requested here will provide fundamental new insight, high-profile proof of concept papers, and lead to future federal funding. The high risk nature of this project combined with its short time-frame on these special cruises of opportunity make it difficult to fund the proposed work through traditional sources. Additionally, this funding will provide JP Student Harriet Alexander with her first at-sea experience, and the data gathered will form a significant portion of her graduate thesis work.

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2011 Funded Proposals

 

Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Pteropod Physiology

Ann Tarrant, Amy Maas, Gareth Lawson

Dissolution of excess CO2 produced by humans into the ocean is causing the marine environment to decrease in pH. This ‘ocean acidification’ is predicted to threaten a broad variety of marine taxa, particularly calcifying animals such as the thecosome (shelled) pteropods. Pteropods, commonly referred to as sea butterflies or pelagic snails, are a group of gastropods that are found throughout the world’s oceans and are important contributors to the biogeochemical cycle of carbon and marine food webs.  To predict the effects of hypercapnia (high CO2) on pteropods,

We must understand the physiological mechanisms through which pteropods can respond to high CO2 and the natural variability in pteropod exposure to this environmental stressor. It is our goal to expose pteropods from the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans to conditions mimicking predicted CO2 levels at the end of the century and to compare physiological responses of pteropods from these different ocean environments. The hydrographic profile of these two ocean basins provides a natural experiment, with low CO2 concentrations at depth in the Atlantic, and elevated CO2 concentrations conditions at depth in the Pacific. Using metabolic assays and sensitive molecular indicators we will determine how exposure to elevated CO2 differentially affects acid-base balance and metabolism between closely related thecosomatous pteropods from the two ocean basins.

Sentry-mounted Sidescan Sonar Imaging of Kermadec Arc Volcanoes

Adam Soule

Volcanic arcs are the surface expression of subduction related magmatism. Intraoceanicarcs – those built upon oceanic crust – with a submarine component total 22,000 km inlength, ~1/3 the length of the global mid-ocean ridge (MOR) system. Submarine arcsproduce isolated volcanoes/seamounts with greater potential for explosive eruptions thanMOR volcanoes. The shallow depth and sediment-free summits of many arc volcanoesmake them important oases for chemosynthetic and benthic animal communities andfisheries. In addition, submarine arc volcanoes host long-lived and robust hydrothermal circulation that produces the largest mineral deposits preserved in the rock record. Arcmineral deposits are richer in precious metals (Gold, Silver) than those on MORs, and with their shallow depths and position along the margins of the ocean basins, mining of these deposits is likely to become economically viable in the coming decades. 

This proposed work seeks to evaluate the relationship between explosive and effusive volcanic eruptions, regional and local faulting, and hydrothermal discharge to volcano development and seafloor mineralization at three Kermadec Arc volcanoes. To do so, I will utilize the first near-bottom sidescan sonar data ever collected on arc volcanoes.  These sidescan sonar data, along with co-located subbottom profile data and seafloor photographs, will allow me to identify the size, type (explosive/effusive), and relative age of volcanic deposits, sedimentary deposits, and faulting on the volcano summits and flanks. The level of detail (sub-meter resolution) and coverage (volcano summits and flanks) provided by these data are unique for arc volcanoes and fill a crucial gap in our knowledge between large-scale arc volcano morphology and highly localized submersible observations. Construction of detailed geologic maps will allow me to test hypotheses regarding volcano growth, caldera development, and subsequent hydrothermal discharge localization proposed for arc volcanoes that have significant implications for the modes of mass and heat transfer and chemical exchange at convergent margins.

This proposal will facilitate my collaboration with NDSF on the development of processing and acquisition best-practices for the new AUV-based sidescan sonar system.  Several proposals, including one of my own, were submitted to the most recent NSF panel to use this pending capability of Sentry. The success of theses and future proposals for Sentry-based sidescan sonar mapping will depend on a demonstration of the effective use of these sensors in real-world settings, which is an important goal of this research.

This work also represents collaboration with Institute of Geological and Nuclear Science (GNS - New Zealand) scientists with whom WHOI has recently (2010) signed a memorandum of understanding and who have strong scientific and national interests in the Kermadec Arc. This project will investigate a small, but important data set that will open new avenues of seafloor exploration for arc volcanoes and lead to future proposal development with GNS colleagues for investigating magmatic and hydrothermal processes in the Kermadec Arc.

A Cable-free Mooring Platform for Imaging FlowCytobot

Robert Olson

Continuous, extended time series are needed to investigate the responses of marine ecosystems to environmental changes on different time scales, so Heidi Sosik and I have developed an automated submersible flow cytometer, Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB), which is capable of longduration, high-resolution analyses of nano- and microplankton cells such as ciliates, diatoms and dinoflagellates. Cells in this size range often have distinctive morphology that allows them to be identified to genus or even species by our automated image processing/classification system. For the past several years IFCBs have been deployed at the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO) and at the entrance to an estuary on the Texas Gulf Coast, and the near-continuous stream of data and images of individual cells is providing an unprecedented view of the plankton (as well as timely warnings of several blooms of toxic dinoflagellates). 

IFCB currently uses a cable from shore for power and communications. We would like to enable IFCB to be deployed at non-cabled sites as well; our ultimate goal is deployment on buoys being developed for the Pioneer Array of the Ocean Observing Initiative (OOI). As a step towards this goal, we propose a non-cabled, moored deployment of IFCB in Salt Pond (Nauset, MA), where D. Anderson and others have been studying bloom dynamics of the toxic dinoflagellate Alexandrium tamarense. The development and testing of the proposed mooring will serve 2 purposes: It will help identify problems in operation of the instrument on a mooring as opposed to a fixed structure, and in power and communications for non-cabled operation; and it will provide a detailed record of plankton diversity in Salt Pond, which will enhance current work by other WHOI scientists studying this system.

Unmanned Aerial Systems for Oceanographic Applications

Hanumant Singh, Stephanie Jenouvrier

Aircraft and helicopters continue to play vital roles in the oceanographic sciences.  However, there are a number of oceanographic applications where these large, expensive, loud, and hydrocarbon fuel based platforms can be replaced with far simpler, cheaper and cleaner unmanned airborne assets.

This proposal is aimed at demonstrating a proof of concept for an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) specifically designed for scientific oceanographic applications. In particular we aim to outfit an inexpensive large scale model aircraft with navigation, attitude and other sensors to enable a variety of diverse oceanographic applications including surveying penguin colonies in Antarctica; looking at very shallow water coral reefs in Puerto Rico; atmospheric measurements of CO2 at the air sea interface and for marine mammal surveys in the New England area. 

While the airframe has been successfully deployed and tested locally in Woods Hole, this proposal will demonstrate the two components that are critical for the types of applications outlined above. Firstly, that the UAS can be deployed and recovered from very confined spaces such as the deck of the R/V Tioga and secondly, that the UAS can be successfully operated by non-specialist scientific personnel with minimal flight training.

Janet Fredericks

Enhancement of MVCO Ocean Observing System Web Services

New standards-based technologies (OGC/W3C) have enabled the delivery of observational data through web services. A well-described system of interdisciplinary sensors can demonstrate best practices in providing sufficient information to assess shared data quality. With funding from a NOAA-IOOS award, the MVCO ADCP waves system is now being offered through an OGC Sensor Observation Service, fully-described for quality assessment. This work demonstrates best-practices in serving standards-based observational data through web services. Through support from this award, SensorML profiles will be developed that can be used as a template by anyone serving CTD, in situ current profiles, wind, air temperature, air pressure and relative humidity data. These will be integrated into the SensorML MVCO ocean observatory profile, making WHOI the only standards-based web service offering access to complete operational observatory profile. Currently, other implementations of web services provide only basic information about the data (format, units of measure, data provider), they do not provide integrated metadata nor is there description of the complete observatory platform. Support requested here will be used to develop and promote the implementation of well-described observational systems adding value to the data beyond the original intended use and providing a means to enable dynamic quality assessment of archived and real-time observations, making WHOI a leader in the development of methods to enable QA/QC integration in the nation’s observing systems.

Measuring Ocean Waves Remotely from a Moving Underwater Vehicle

Eugene Terray

Surface waves are a central player in a wide range of ocean processes of scientific, engineering and societal importance. Examples are air-sea interaction, where they mediate the fundamental mechanical coupling between the wind and the interior water column, and the suspension and alongshore transport of sand and sediment, which drive changes in coastal morphology. Knowing the heights, periods and directions of the longer (energetic) waves also is important for the control of underwater vehicles, such as submarines – for example, when coming to and operating at, periscope depth (the latter application is of particular interest to the 2nd author of this proposal who is an active duty submariner in the U.S. Navy and has experienced the control problem firsthand).

However, despite their importance, ocean waves have been notoriously difficult to measure, typically requiring specialized instrumentation costing many tens of thousands of dollars. This has tended to discourage investigators from measuring waves, except in special circumstances, and as a consequence they are not routinely measured, even in the coastal ocean where they are particularly important. Over the past decade, however, there has been considerable progress in developing a new method of measuring wave height and direction using acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs). These instruments, originally developed to profile currents remotely, are widely used in coastal oceanography, and several vendors now offer relatively inexpensive extensions to enable ADCPs also to measure waves. At present, however, the latter application requires that the instrument be rigidly fixed to the bottom, pointing upward, and hence limits the approach to relatively shallow, near-shore regions.

Consequently, there is considerable interest in extending the technique to enable the measurement of ocean waves remotely from subsurface moorings and underwater vehicles. The technical impediment to this is that the subsurface float (or vehicle) will move in a wave-correlated way in response to the wave forcing, and hence the velocities measured by the ADCP will be biased. Underwater vehicles present an additional difficulty in that the waves are Doppler shifted by the forward motion of the vehicle.

In conjunction with the 2nd author's thesis work, we are developing new algorithms to overcome these problems and to enable estimation of the frequency-direction spectrum of surface waves using ADCP measurements from a moving underwater platform. Somewhat surprisingly, we have not been able to discover a set of observational data, including ground-truth measurements of the waves, suitable for testing them. Consequently the focus of this proposal is to carry out an experiment to generate such a data set, and to test and validate the performance of our algorithms on it. The field experiments will use a REMUS-100 autonomous underwater vehicle equipped with upward- and downward-looking ADCPs and a high quality inertial motion-sensing package. We will operate the REMUS around the 12 m underwater node at the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory. This node has an upward-looking ADCP that will provide comparison measurements against a fixed instrument (the REMUS and node ADCPs are essentially identical). Ground truth will be provided by a conventional moored wave directional buoy. We plan 5 days of field observations in order to capture a range of wave conditions.  This experiment is expected to generate a unique data set for testing approaches to measuring waves from moving subsurface platforms using ADCPs, and will be a central part of S. Haven's MS Thesis.

Mechanical Properties and Seismicity of East Coast Submarine Landslides

The Atlantic continental margin is an area with relatively few earthquakes, but there is still the possibility of significant damages. For instance, the M7.2 1929 earthquake along the continental slope of Nova Scotia, caused a large-area landslide (22,700 km2), which generated a devastating tsunami (up to 8 m in amplitude and 13 m of runup). The Atlantic coast is vulnerable to tsunamis because of the large infrastructure and population concentrations along the coast, including on barrier islands and estuaries. The primary potential tsunami sources for the U.S. Atlantic coast are likely submarine landslides. ~90% of landslide-generated tsunamis worldwide are associated with earthquakes. Recently we have shown that the observed size distributions of landslides along the Atlantic margin can be generated if we assume that the landslides were generated by earthquakes with magnitudes 4.5-7.5. In 2012, the USGS Woods Hole group led by ten Brink will conduct an ocean bottom seismometer experiment using WHOI instruments to study the microseismicity of the slope and upper rise in a region of mapped landslides south of Martha’s Vineyard and downslope of the Pioneer Array. This project will aim to characterize the physical properties of the landslide material via the innovative use of ambient noise recorded on the OBS and to locate microseisms from active faulting that may trigger slides. This DOEI/Access-to-the-sea proposal requests funds to allow Collins and McGuire to participate in the cruises and data analysis from this project.

                         

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The unique partnership of science and engineering at WHOI nurtures vast technological advances. Some examples include:

  • Laboratory on a Ship: Miniaturized sensors and digital imagery developed at WHOI now allow in situ, real-time analysis of chemical and biological measurements that previously took months in shore-based laboratories.
  • Eyes in the Ocean: Development of new generations of vehicles, like the Replacement Human Occupied Vehicle (RHOV), the deep-diving Hybrid Remotely Operated Vehicles (HROV), and Sentry, will allow even the most remote part of the seafloor to be explored and studied.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Moored buoys and seafloor observatories, like those used at the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory and off Hawaii, now allow us to observe the oceans continuously over many months or years, regardless of weather.