Magazine article Oceanus

"What a Year!"

Magazine article Oceanus

"What a Year!"

Article excerpt

WHOIs Deep Submergence Lab Brings Together Four Technologies to Serve Three Diverse Expeditions

Four technologies that have been developing separately for some time were brought together this year by WHOI's Deep Submergence Laboratory (DSL) to serve three very different user communities. With images from the towed vehicle Argo II and the remotely operated vehicle Jason (see vehicle illustrations overleaf), DSL scientists and engineers created mosaic images of a sunken British cargo ship and 20-meter-tall hydrothermal vent chimneys, both in the Pacific Ocean, and ancient shipwreck sites in the Mediterranean. The three expeditions thus served the marine safety, scientific, and archaeological communities.

The four technologies are precision navigation, automatic control or dynamic positioning of the vehicle, photo mosaicking techniques, and sonar imaging. DSL Scientist Dana Yoerger explains that the "geometrically accurate:' but lower resolution sonar images combined with high resolution but less precise (because of camera physics) electronic photographs offer analytical accuracy that was never before possible.

Working aboard Thomas G. Thompson, an Atlantis sister ship operated by the University of Washington, a 13-member DSL team led by Research Engineer Andy Bowen left Guam March 9 for the wreck site of the 964-foot British bulk carrier M/V Derbyshire. The ship sank in 1980 with all 42 hands lost 400 miles off Okinawa. The DSL team was contracted through the National Science Foundation by the British Department of Transport to conduct a thorough survey of the ship, which rests at 4,300 meters, with the objective of determining the cause of the ship's loss and thus improving the future safety of bulk carriers.

The DSL team spent 57 days at sea first surveying the area with the towed vehicles Argo II, a high altitude imaging system, and DSL-120, a high resolution sidescan sonar system. …

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