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About the Mission

Deep-water Mid-Atlantic Canyons

21-28 August 2013

Steve W. Ross (UNCW) and Sandra Brooke (FSU)

This will be the final cruise in our four year project to study submarine canyons along the continental slope of the Middle Atlantic coast.  Our work has focused on Baltimore and Norfolk canyons and their surroundings and has included surveys of deep-sea coral habitats, new methane seep communities, sandy/muddy seafloor, rugged canyon walls, and a variety of shipwrecks.  For information on the past cruises see: background/plan/plan.html;   This cruise will be less complex than past cruises and mostly involves retrieving oceanographic instruments left on the seafloor in 2012.  The cruise will use the NOAA ship Nancy Foster and will originate from and return to Charleston, SC.  It will require about two days to sail to the study sites and about two days to return, leaving four days to accomplish the mission.  Institutions participating in this cruise include: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Univ. NC-Wilmington, FL State Univ., CSA Ocean Sciences, Inc., NOAA, US Geological Survey, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, ArtWork, Netherlands Inst. for Sea Research, and Cape Fear Community College.

Figure 1. Major middle Atlantic canyons; emphasis of this study is on Norfolk and Baltimore canyons. Multibeam sonar data are represented by color shaded areas. Map Credit: Mike Rhode (UNCW)

Figure 1. Major middle Atlantic canyons; emphasis of this study is on Norfolk and Baltimore canyons. Multibeam sonar data are represented by color shaded areas. Map Credit: Mike Rhode (UNCW)

The primary task will be to recover two benthic landers and one mooring in Norfolk Canyon and the same amount and type of gear from Baltimore Canyon.  See above web sites for the 2012 and May 2013 cruises which contain essays and logs concerning the landers and moorings.  Recovering these instruments will occupy most of our daylight activities.  Work days will span 24 hour operations, and the remaining work at these sites (mostly at night) will be to accomplish CTD casts at single stations and along several transects in each canyon.  Several targets of archaeological interest will be mapped with multibeam sonar as time allows.  Several educators and students will accompany the cruise, and we plan to send back to shore regular updates on our activities.

This project represents a collaborative effort among the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), CSA Ocean Sciences, Inc. (the BOEM contractor) and their academic partners, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (who provide ship time and the ROVs), and the US Geological Survey.


Figure 2. UNC-Wilmington benthic lander. Two UNCW landers were deployed in Baltimore Canyon, and two similar landers belonging to Netherlands Inst. for Sea Research were deployed in Norfolk Canyon. A USGS mooring was deployed in each canyon. Photo Credit: Steve W. Ross (UNCW)

The project is being conducted under U.S. Department of the Interior, BOEM, Environmental Studies Program Contract No. M10PC00100.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2013 8:14 pm

    Is that like a lunar “lander”? 🙂

    • lizbaird permalink
      August 23, 2013 8:20 pm

      Thanks Kevin! It is just like a “lunar” lander. It has to function under extreme conditions, remotely, for long periods of time. After working all night, Kelly did not see the lander come to the surface this morning. She has had a chance to check it out this afternoon.

  2. Thayer Young permalink
    December 6, 2013 9:15 am

    FYI, to Mike Rhode (UNCW) who produced the map for Figure 1, you mislabeled the Maryland mainland as Virginia. Very nice map though.

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