Exploration Vessel Nautilus is a 64 metre research vessel operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust. The Trust was founded in 2008 by Titanic discoverer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Robert Ballard to engage in pure ocean exploration. Their international programs centre on scientific exploration of the seafloor, many aboard the Nautilus.
Acoustic Imaging’s Lindsay Gee will be part of the research team on Nautilus as it works its way along the California Borderland region offshore San Diego to San Francisco. Nautilus will utilise its hull-mounted multibeam echosounder to survey these previously unmapped zones and create maps to show the acoustically derived bathymetry of the seafloor.
Although only about 10% of earth’s oceans have been acoustically mapped, satellites equipped with altimetry sensors have been used to derive the bathymetry of the entire seafloor. The altimeters sense gravity anomalies of the sea surface that can be linked to topography (eg dip in the surface of the ocean over a trench). There is a trade-off between bathymetry derived from altimetry versus shipboard acoustic sensors: multibeam systems map the seafloor at a high resolution and are accurate but ships move slowly only having mapped about 1/10th of the seafloor. While there is global coverage from satellite altimetry derived maps, the resolution of these maps is low and the correlation between depth and a gravity anomaly is non-linear (ie there is more room for error deriving bathymetry from satellite measurements).
Read more about Lindsay’s work and research and what led him down this career path.
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