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First successful work with underwater robots during the expedition M167

Oct 21, 2020
MARUM ROV SQUID being deployed (left), MARUM BlueROV resting on deck after deployment (right). Photo: MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen
MARUM ROV SQUID being deployed (left), MARUM BlueROV resting on deck after deployment (right). Photo: MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen

 

After a week of quarantine in a hotel in northern Germany, the German research vessel METEOR set out on an expedition in the framework of the EU Marine Robots (EUMR H2020) project on October 11th 2020. Among the key goals of the scientific cruise are the recovery of several long-term instruments that were deployed on the active faults and mud volcanoes in both the Alboran Sea (Mediterranean) and Gulf of Cadiz (Atlantic). These long-term observatories had been placed a several tens of meters in the sub-seafloor by the MARUM seafloor drill rig (MeBo) during the previous cruise M149. MARUM researcher Dr. Walter Menapace, chief scientist, reported from aboard RV METEOR that the first of three borehole observatories was successfully recovered.

A scientific team of 15 Postdocs, Technicians, undergraduate and postgraduate student, representing an astonishing number of 8 nationalities, is currently operating both MARUM ROV SQUID (2000m capability) and an off-the-shelf smaller BlueRobotics ROV (modified and increased in payload by MARUM as part of EUMR) to undertake a number of exercises such as

  • Recover the borehole instruments as part of a TNA (transnational access) project between MARUM and the CSIC-CMIMA Barcelona
  • Test a newly developed fluid sampler with ROV SQUID
  • Carry out exercises that demonstrate collaboration between ROVs SQUID and BlueROV
  • Use state-of-the-art photo- and video-mosaicking techniques on active mud volcanoes to retrieve quality imagery of sites of fluid emission
  • Ground-truth some of the above by traditional sampling (push cores from ROV, gravity cores from RV METEOR).

We have completed the transit from Emden, Germany, to the Alboran Sea and had three dives there where we successfully recovered the MeBo borehole observatory, took push cores, and carried out high-resolution video surveys of the seafloor near the Carboneras fault. The transit to the Atlantic went smoothly and more observatory and mosaicking duties are awaited by the team. The data (to be) collected will help unravel the nature and deep-seated processes along the plate boundary fault system between Africa in the south and Eurasia (in this case the Iberian Peninsula) in the north, which is characterised by regular earthquake activity and its associated processes and which changes its properties and geometry when running through the Straits of Gibraltar through the entire Mediterranean Sea.

 

Link to the expedition page

More Information about MARUM-MeBo

More Information about MARUM-Squid

Logo der Expedition M167
MARUM ROV SQUID showing borehole string before (left) and after (right) recovery of the instrumented borehole plug. Photo: MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen
MARUM ROV SQUID showing borehole string before (left) and after (right) recovery of the instrumented borehole plug. Photo: MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen
MARUM MeBoCORK observatory in the laboratory of RV METEOR for maintenance and data retrieval. Photo: MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen
MARUM MeBoCORK observatory in the laboratory of RV METEOR for maintenance and data retrieval. Photo: MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen