Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Underwater robot sent to study Deepwater Horizon spill

Date:
May 30, 2010
Source:
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Summary:
A high-tech robotic submersible has been sent to the oily waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The goal is to collect information about the oil plume from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig accident for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

An autonomous underwater vehicle from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) being launched from the NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter in the Gulf of Mexico
Credit: Yanwu Zhang 2010 MBARI

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute's Division of Marine Operations, under an agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), sent a high-tech robotic submersible to the oily waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The goal is to collect information about the oil plume from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig accident for NOAA.

Related Articles


Although satellites and aircraft can help show the extent of the spill at the surface, MBARI's autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) will help researchers understand the nature and extent of any plumes of oil that may be hidden beneath the surface of the ocean.

The MBARI AUV is being deployed from the NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The Gordon Gunter departed from shore on Thursday, May 27th. The AUV was launched into the waters of the Gulf for the first time on May 28, 2010.

Autonomous underwater vehicles are robotic, untethered submersibles that are programmed at the surface, then navigate through the water on their own, collecting data as they go. The MBARI AUV can measure physical characteristics of the water, such as temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen, detect chlorophyll from microscopic marine algae, and measure concentrations of small particles (or oil droplets) in the water.

This AUV is unique in that it carries "gulper" samplers that can collect up to ten 1.8-liter water samples while traveling through the water (or through the plume in this case). The AUV also uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence software to decide where to go and when to collect its water samples. Engineers can program the on-board computers to help the AUV find a plume and then map its boundaries, as well as take water samples both within and outside the plume.

After the AUV is recovered, its water samples will be analyzed for a variety of chemicals associated with the oil and dispersants. These samples may also be subjected to DNA analysis to determine what types of algae, bacteria, or other microorganisms are present.

This MBARI AUV can dive to 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) below the surface -- deep enough to collect water samples near the seafloor in the vicinity of the oil spill. The vehicle typically follows a "roller-coaster" path through the water, which allows its instruments to monitor a cross-section of the ocean.

MBARI engineers and scientists have been developing this AUV for almost a decade, and added its water-collection capability in 2007. One of the team's goals has been to replace expensive shipboard measurements with information collected automatically by the AUV. The vehicle has been used to study red tides and other algal blooms and to understand and perform long-term water quality monitoring.

The MBARI team is excited by the prospect that their vehicle may be useful in understanding the Gulf oil spill. Information about where oil is spreading beneath the ocean surface will help biologists and others understand the effects of this catastrophic event.

"MBARI's AUV and gulper system provides a surveillance and sample collection capability that is complementary to other tools being deployed to understand the fate of the subsurface plume of oil and dispersant." said MBARI President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Scholin. "Coordinating this response in partnership with government and academic institutions is not only important for providing much-needed fundamental information on the spill and its impacts, but also serves as a valuable learning experience for understanding how to respond to such incidents in the future."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. "Underwater robot sent to study Deepwater Horizon spill." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100528211158.htm>.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. (2010, May 30). Underwater robot sent to study Deepwater Horizon spill. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100528211158.htm
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. "Underwater robot sent to study Deepwater Horizon spill." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100528211158.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

AFP (Mar. 29, 2015) Vietnam&apos;s drive to become the world&apos;s leading rice exporter is pushing farmers in the fertile Mekong Delta to the brink, say experts, with mounting costs to the environment. Duration: 02:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: New Eruptions at Colima Volcano in Mexico

Raw: New Eruptions at Colima Volcano in Mexico

AP (Mar. 28, 2015) The Colima Volcano in western Mexico sent large columns of ash up into the air on Saturday. (March 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Ice Is Melting Faster Than Ever

Antarctic Ice Is Melting Faster Than Ever

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) A new study of nearly two decades of satellite data shows Antarctic ice shelves are losing more mass faster every year. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Homes Near Landslide in Washington

Raw: Homes Near Landslide in Washington

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) Aerial footage from KOMO shows several homes near a landslide in Washington. KOMO reports that at least one of the homes has been damaged. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins