The PI's request funding to obtain a high resolution bathymetric mapping capability through the acquisition of a multibeam sonar and a pan and tilt actuator. Together these items will create a versatile mapping capability for complex underwater scenes distinct from other vehicles used by the scientific community. These instruments will provide a means for multiscalar visual and acoustic mapping over scales from a square kilometer with 10's of cm accuracies down to hundreds of square meters with millimeter accuracy.
High resolution bathymetric maps have become essential tools for the study of marine archaeology and oceanography, particularly marine geology. The ability to efficiently make bathymetric maps will enable the PI's to better understand the geological landscape of dive sites and provide a context for collected samples. These tools will also complete the suite of mapping sensors and greatly facilitate complementary engineering effort of developing techniques for robotic mapping. The requested items will give the PI's the capability to mapping fully vertical and complex underwater scenes appropriately using the freedom provided by the pan and tilt actuator and develop methodologies for creating 3D texture mapped representations of the seafloor.
The acquisition will further an extensive outreach program which focuses on the link between science and technology. Techniques and data will be incorporated into the Educator-At-Sea program and the public outreach arm of the Nautilus Program. This provides the ability to engage the general public and provide experiences to K-12 teachers. The Nautilus program incorporates a large education and training effort for science and engineering students. Partnerships will be developed between students at URI and collaborative institutions. Bathymetric data will also be made available to the oceanographic community through the Nautilus' Doctors-on-call program. The PIs have a history of participation opportunities for underrepresented groups and through the Nautilus program will continue to provide such opportunities. The real-time interactive broadcast of seafloor exploration provides excellent opportunities for broad participation even if everyone is not able to be on the ship in remote locations with the PIs. Benefits to society will likely be realized both in technological advances towards exploring and understanding our environment and through the anthropological/archaeological nature of much of the PIs work.
The goal of this project was to obtain and install a new BlueView high frequency mutlibeam sonar system on the Hercules remotely operated vehicle (ROV). This sonar system can be used to create digital terrain maps of the sea floor with centimeter scale resolution. The Hercules ROV is a deep diving remote controlled robotic platform and the primary asset of the Nautilus Exploration Program (see Nautiluslive.org). The vehicle is used to collect samples, images and make maps of the sea floor down to 4000 meters below the surface. An overview the of Nautilus Exploration Program and images created using the BlueView multibeam sonar system can be found online at the following site. http://tos.org/oceanography/issues/archive.html Volume 25 | Number 1 | Supplement | March 2012 New Frontiers in Ocean Exploration: The E/V Nautilus and NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer 2011 Field Season Volume 24 | Number 1, Supplement | March 2011 New Frontiers in Ocean Exploration: The E/V Nautilus 2010 Field Season The BlueView sonar was purchased and installed for the 2011 and 2012 Nautilus expeditions. During those cruises the sonar was used to map several locations. Near Pantelleria, Italy, the site of 1891 underwater volcanic eruption was found and mapped. Near Santorini, Greece, the sonar was used to map the sea floor in the Kolumbo crater. The maps produced here will aid in understanding the active vent system that is injecting large amounts of CO2 into the crater's bottom waters. While working at the Eratosthenes Sea Mount, south of Cyprus, the sonar was used to map a newly discovered area of hydrothermal activity and life on the deep sea floor. We have also use the sonar to map may ancient ship wrecks found in the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. The maps produced by this sonar are valuable tools for understanding the underwater environment. This capability has greatly benefited the Nautilus Exploration Program. The sonar will continue to be used on future expeditions for marine geology and for general research in data processing for oceanography.