Support of Gulf of Mexico Hydrate Research Consortium [electronic resource] : Activities to Support Establishment of a Sea Floor Monitoring Station Project
- Washington, D.C. : United States. Dept. of Energy, 2007.
Oak Ridge, Tenn. : Distributed by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, U.S. Dept. of Energy.
- Additional Creators:
- University of Mississippi
United States. Department of Energy
United States. Department of Energy. Office of Scientific and Technical Information
- The Gulf of Mexico Hydrates Research Consortium (GOM-HRC) was established in 1999 to assemble leaders in gas hydrates research. The Consortium is administered by the Center for Marine Resources and Environmental Technology, CMRET, at the University of Mississippi. The primary objective of the group is to design and emplace a remote monitoring station or sea floor observatory (MS/SFO) on the sea floor in the northern Gulf of Mexico by the year 2007, in an area where gas hydrates are known to be present at, or just below, the sea floor. This mission, although unavoidably delayed by hurricanes and other disturbances, necessitates assembling a station that will monitor physical and chemical parameters of the marine environment, including sea water and sea-floor sediments, on a more-or-less continuous basis over an extended period of time. In 2005, biological monitoring, as a means of assessing environmental health, was added to the mission of the MS/SFO. Establishment of the Consortium has succeeded in fulfilling the critical need to coordinate activities, avoid redundancies and communicate effectively among researchers in the arena of gas hydrates research. Complementary expertise, both scientific and technical, has been assembled to promote innovative research methods and construct necessary instrumentation. The observatory has now achieved a microbial dimension in addition to the geophysical, geological, and geochemical components it had already included. Initial components of the observatory, a probe that collects pore-fluid samples and another that records sea floor temperatures, were deployed in Mississippi Canyon 118 (MC118) in May of 2005. Follow-up deployments, planned for fall 2005, had to be postponed due to the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Katrina (and later, Rita) on the Gulf Coast. Station/observatory completion, anticipated for 2007, will likely be delayed by at least one year. These delays caused scheduling and deployments difficulties but many sensors and instruments were completed during this period. Software has been written that will accommodate the data that the station retrieves, when it begins to be delivered. In addition, new seismic data processing software has been written to treat the peculiar data to be received by the vertical line array (VLA) and additional software has been developed that will address the horizontal line array (HLA) data. These packages have been tested on data from the test deployments of the VLA and on data from other, similar, areas of the Gulf (in the case of the HLA software). The CMRET has conducted one very significant research cruise during this reporting period: a March cruise to perform sea trials of the Station Service Device (SSD), the custom Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) built to perform several of the unique functions required for the observatory to become fully operational. March's efforts included test deployments of the SSD and Florida Southern University's mass spectrometer designed to measure hydrocarbon gases in the water column and The University of Georgia's microbial collector. The University of Georgia's rotational sea-floor camera was retrieved as was Specialty Devices storm monitor array. The former was deployed in September and the latter in June, 2006. Both were retrieved by acoustic release from a dispensable weight. Cruise participants also went prepared to recover any and all instruments left on the sea-floor during the September Johnson SeaLink submersible cruise. One of the pore-fluid samplers, a small ''peeper'' was retrieved successfully and in fine condition. Other instrumentation was left on the sea-floor until modifications of the SSD are complete and a return cruise is accomplished.
- Published through SciTech Connect.
J. Robert Woolsey; Thomas M. McGee; Carol Blanton Lutken; Elizabeth Stidham.
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