MARS Observatory
The Monterey Ocean-Bottom
Broadband Seismometer (MOBB)

The Monterey Ocean Bottom Broadband (MOBB) seismometer was developed as a collaborative project between the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory (BSL) at the University of California, Berkeley. As of Fall 2008, the MOBB system consists of a three-component broadband seismometer (buried in the seafloor), a current and pressure meter (located on the seafloor nearby), and a benthic node that contains batteries and hard disks for storing data.

These instruments are located on the seafloor in Monterey Bay, 40 km offshore, and are part of the Berkeley Digital Seismic Network. This station represents the first step towards extending the on-shore broadband earthquake monitoring network in California to the seaward side of the boundary between the North-American and Pacific geological plates. Having instruments on the seaward side of this boundary will give geologists a much better idea of the structural character and dynamics of this boundary.

The MOBB seismometer was first deployed on April 9-11, 2002. The station is currently recording seismic data autonomously. However, this data is stored on site, and cannot be analyzed until the data-recording unit is brought back to the surface by a Remotely Operated Vehicle. Eventually the MOBB system will be linked to the MARS observatory and be able to provide real-time, continuous seismic data that can be merged with the rest of the northern California real-time seismic system.

Sample data from the MOBB system is available online at the Northern California Earthquake Data Center (NCEDC).

The MOBB project evolved from the 1997 MOISE experiment, in which a similar system was deployed for a period of 3 months in a similar location in Monterey Bay. During the Monterey Bay Ocean Bottom International Science Experiment (MOISE), much experience was gained on the technological aspects of such deployments which contributed to the success of the present installation.

The MOBB project is supported by funds to MBARI from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the National Science Foundation, and funds to BSL from UC Berkeley.

The map below shows the locations of the MOBB seismometer and the MOISE experiment in Monterey Bay (image courtesy of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory)

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Last updated: Oct. 08, 2009