QuERCi Project: First data collected

Life on-board the RV Celtic Explorer continues! The weather couldn’t be better with sunny skies and calm sea conditions like a lake at the moment which means working conditions are kept very comfortable alongside freshly caught Mackerel for breakfast every morning!

Holland I_2

The Holland I ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) being deployed to map the cold-water coral reefs

There has been a slightly tense atmosphere on-board with frustrating calibration problems with the equipment but now we are collecting our multibeam data. It was well worth the wait as the data is incredible. The multibeam, which is mounted on the ROV, is travelling 190 m above the seabed and mapping a swath width of 300 m of seabed at a resolution never ever done before. We are finding reefs at nearly 1 km below the sea surface never seen by humans. Amazing!!

Piloting the ROV and monitoring the datafeeds from the ROV shack. Far left: Aaron Lim (BEES PhD students), next to Aaron is Kevin Power BSc International Field Geosciences 4th year Student.

Piloting the ROV and monitoring the datafeeds from the ROV shack. Far left: Aaron Lim (BEES PhD student), next to Aaron is Kevin Power BSc International Field Geosciences 4th year Student.

Using software to process this data, the cold-water coral carbonate mounds (reefs) can be identified along with the sediment waves that surround them. In some parts we can also possibly see the start of new reefs with corals colonising the sand waves, which may then accumulate more sediment and continue to grow. Also, the types of sediment waves imaged indicate the strength of currents running over and around these mounds.

Processed ROV multibeam data showing coral carbonate mounds (reefs) surrounded by scours and sediment waves. The mounds are 8m tall.

Processed ROV multibeam data showing coral carbonate mounds (reefs) surrounded by scours and sediment waves. The mounds are 8m tall.

Excitement increases as we gather detailed mapping data of the mound clusters in the Porcupine Seabight, which makes up for long hours of scanning the seabed!

Up next, is to find the full extent of the Moira Mounds using the multibeam mounted to the bottom of the ship and find out how far west these mounds extend! So more exciting news to come!

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