Northeastern Section - 50th Annual Meeting (23–25 March 2015)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:20 AM


MCKENNA, Lindsay1, LOBECKER, Elizabeth1, SOWERS, Derek1, KENNEDY, Brian2 and ELLIOTT, Kelley3, (1)NOAA Office of Exploration and Research (ERT, Inc.), 24 Colovos Rd, Durham, NH 03824, (2)NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 215 South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI 02882, (3)NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (2020 Company), 1315 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910,

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, the only U.S. federal vessel dedicated to global ocean exploration, systematically mapped and explored the New England continental shelf break between 2011 and 2014. Additionally, opportunistic transit mapping resulted in over 2,000 linear kilometers of mapping data on the New England continental shelf. The Okeanos Explorer uses advanced sonar systems to collect high-resolution bathymetry, water-column backscatter, seafloor backscatter, and sub-bottom profile data. Mapping data is used in conjunction with input from a broad group of representatives from the scientific and marine resource management communities to select sites for targeted exploration using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with a powerful lighting system and high definition imaging. An innovative telepresence system allows live ROV video feeds to be broadcast over the internet, allowing scientists onshore to actively engage in exploration. Exploration highlights along the New England continental shelf break, from eastern Long Island to Cape Cod, include mapping the submarine canyons complex in high-resolution, detecting over 24 likely gaseous bubble plumes in water-column backscatter data, and conducting over 30 ROV dives. Mapping and ROV data has led to improved insight into of submarine canyon geomorphology, better understanding of diverse submarine canyon habitats, further knowledge of deep water coral communities including their geological context and biological associates, and broader interpretations of submarine landslides. All data acquired is freely available to the public in usable data formats and maintained in national geophysical and oceanographic data archives.