Navigation Links
UNH researchers: Multibeam sonar can map undersea gas seeps
Date:10/6/2011

DURHAM, N.H. A technology commonly used to map the bottom of the deep ocean can also detect gas seeps in the water column with remarkably high fidelity, according to scientists from the University of New Hampshire and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This finding, made onboard the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer in the Gulf of Mexico, will lead to more effective mapping of these gas seeps and, ultimately, enhanced understanding of our ocean environments.

The mapping technology, multibeam sonar, is an echo-sounding technology that surveys a wide, fan-shaped swath of the seafloor, providing much greater coverage than the single-beam sonar systems previously used to map seeps. "We wanted to see whether we could map a large area of gaseous seeps effectively using this technology, and how well the multibeam sonar compared to our very sensitive single-beam sonars," says Tom Weber of UNH's Center for Coastal Mapping, who was lead scientist of this mission. "It turns out it works wonderfully." The multibeam sonar on the Okeanos Explorer produced data to make high-resolution maps of gas in the water column in depths ranging from 3,000 to 7,000 feet.

Working jointly with scientists and technicians from NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Weber and colleagues mapped more than 17,000 square kilometers of the Gulf of Mexico from Aug. 22 through Sept. 10, 2011.

Sonar finds features on the ocean floor much the way a bat tracks its dinner: "It's an acoustic wave hitting the target and reflecting back," says Weber. Multibeam sonar sends those sound waves in many directions at the same time, enabling it to "see" a swath of targets that is much wider than what would be observed with a single-beam sonar. While it's known to be an effective tool for mapping large, stable items like the bottom of the ocean, it wasn't designed to detect targets within the water column.

Gas seeps primarily but not exclusively methane are numerous in the Gulf of Mexico, emanating from natural fissures in the seafloor. They can be associated with oil, but oil was not the focus for Weber and his collaborators. Finding and mapping gaseous seeps, says Weber, helps scientists better understand the ocean: its methane fluxes, carbon cycle, and deep-water marine environments.

Further, the Gulf of Mexico is home to many active oil-drilling sites, and mapping the gaseous seeps in the water column will inform scientific as well as regulatory decisions. "In the deep ocean, there are life forms like tubeworms and clams associated with gas seeps, and they're treated as protected resources," Weber says.

Further, mapping these seeps will give researchers baseline data on what exists in the water column, helping them determine whether future seeps are natural or unwanted byproducts of drilling.

"Mapping the seafloor and the water column are essential first steps in exploring our largely unknown ocean," says Weber. "This expedition confirms earlier indications that multibeam technology provides a valuable new tool in the inventory to detect plumes of gas in the water column, and especially in deep water."

Also on the mission from UNH were CCOM research scientist Jonathan Beaudoin and graduate students Kevin Jerram (pursuing an M.S. in ocean engineering) and Maddie Schroth-Miller (pursuing an M.S. in applied mathematics). NOAA's expedition coordinator and lead NOAA scientist on the mission was Mashkoor Malik, who graduated from UNH in 2005 with a M.S. in ocean mapping.


'/>"/>

Contact: Beth Potier
beth.potier@unh.edu
603-862-1566
University of New Hampshire
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Researchers: Apply public trust doctrine to rescue wildlife from politics
2. Researchers: Include data about societal values in endangered species decisions
3. Researchers: Cures to diseases may live in our guts
4. Researchers: EPA should recognize environmental impact of protecting foreign oil
5. UT researchers: English ivy may give sunblock a makeover
6. UF researchers: Ancient crocodile relative likely food source for Titanoboa
7. NOAA researchers: Blue whales re-establishing former migration patterns
8. Stanford researchers: Global warming is killing frogs and salamanders in Yellowstone Park
9. Dolphins use double sonar
10. TWIPS -- sonar inspired by dolphins
11. University professor stresses links between US Navy sonar and whale strandings
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
UNH researchers: Multibeam sonar can map undersea gas seeps
(Date:11/14/2016)... Calif. , Nov. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... biometric identification market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes ... & Sullivan Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership. ... in the biometric identification market by pioneering ... verification solution for instant, seamless, and non-invasive ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... -- On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ... for the Biometric Exit Program. The Request for Information ... explains that CBP intends to add biometrics to confirm ... States , in order to deter visa overstays, ... Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160622/382209LOGO ...
(Date:6/15/2016)... , June 15, 2016 ... report titled "Gesture Recognition Market by Application Market - Global Industry ... - 2024". According to the report, the  global gesture ... in 2015 and is estimated to grow at ... billion by 2024.  Increasing application of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/6/2016)... ... December 06, 2016 , ... The Osteoarthritis ... the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to consider OA as a serious disease. As ... about the growing population of OA patients, many of whom may experience progressive ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... ... December 06, 2016 , ... ... ("GPP") portfolio company, today announced it has acquired the assets of Theorem ... Chiltern International and focuses on clinical trial drug packaging, labeling, storage, reconciliation, ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... , Dec. 6, 2016  SRI International ... $150 million from the National Institutes of Health,s ... the Division of AIDS (NIAID-DAIDS) to support the ... non-vaccine pre-exposure (PreP) agents. Under the seven-year contract, ... product development services for candidate HIV-prevention products that ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... , Dec. 5, 2016 Axovant Sciences Ltd. ... company focused on the treatment of dementia, today announced ... the treatment of Alzheimer,s disease will be presented at ... on Friday, December 9, 2016 in San ... results of both simple and complex measures of activities ...
Breaking Biology Technology: