2010 SouthernExpedition

Leg 1 - Lasar Raman Spectroscopy
Chief Scientist - Peter Brewer
July 9 - 19, 2010

During this first leg of the Southern Expedition, we will be conducting respiration index experiments on marine organisms in the Santa Barbara Basin. The objective is to learn more about the oxygen levels in the water and where marine organisms live in relation to those levels. We will be collecting water samples to measure oxygen, temperature, and salinity levels. We will also be conducting laser Raman studies of pore-water chemistry in the sediments on an asphalt volcano in the Santa Barbara Basin and at active methane gas venting sites and seafloor mounds in the Santa Monica basin. Our laser Raman spectrometer bounces a specially tuned laser beam off of almost any object or substance—solid, liquid, or gas—providing information about that object's chemical composition and molecular structure. This is a much better method for measuring the chemistry of the water in the sediments than collecting a push core, which requires bringing the sediments to the surface, squeezing out the water and then analyzing the chemistry. We will also be conducting preliminary exploratory observations of the seafloor inside the Santa Cruz basin.

Day 11 – One last dive
July 19, 2010

A short dive today because the vehicle had to be up on deck to give us time to sail for the Los Angeles harbor...

Day 10 – Armed with a titanium probe
July 18, 2010

Sometimes you find something where you least expect it.

Day 9 – Probing and testing
July 17, 2010

After yesterday’s successful pairing of the laser Raman pore-water probe and the vibracoring system, today was spent further testing the tools and technique while gathering more data.

Knute Brekke on ROVDay 8 – Well, that explains all these clams!
July 16, 2010

The day started with a visit to the site of an ongoing MBARI experiment, where it looked like there had been a blizzard on the seafloor.

Day 7 – The seafloor blizzard
July 15, 2010

The day started with a visit to the site of an ongoing MBARI experiment, where it looked like there had been a blizzard on the seafloor.

Day 6 – Diving on the seafloor mounds – finally!
July 14, 2010

No matter how much planning goes into every detail of a research expedition, everyone involved has to remain flexible because the unplanned is bound to happen. Flexible was certainly the name of the game today...

Day 5 - Probing for a methane signal at the asphalt volcano
July 13, 2010

Scientists have long studied the gases in the seafloor by taking core samples of the sediment, then returning the sample to a laboratory and performing a chemical analysis of the pore waters in the sample.

Day 4 - Some hardy animals
July 12, 2010

Respiration studies testing the limits of marine life continued today. Three experiments were conducted with squid, with the science team again manipulating their environment with carbon-dioxide-enriched seawater and sodium sulfite.

Day 3 - Stressing out a squid
July 11, 2010

How will global warming affect marine life? Scientists are studying how decreased oxygen combined with an increase in carbon dioxide in the water will affect animals.

Day 2 - Recovering the benthic elevator
July 10, 2010

The goal of the day was to recover the long-deployed benthic elevator and, in the process, test the tether on the remotely operated vehicle Doc Ricketts.

Day 1 - Setting sail
July 9, 2010

The R/V Western Flyer set sail with the high tide as the last glimmer of twilight faded.

Leg 1

R/V Western Flyer

The R/V Western Flyer is a small water-plane area twin hull (SWATH) oceanographic research vessel measuring 35.6 meters long and 16.2 meters wide. It was designed and constructed for MBARI to serve as the support vessel for ROV operations. Her missions include the Monterey Bay as well as extended cruises to Hawaii, Gulf of California and the Pacific Northwest.

ROV Doc Ricketts

ROV Doc Ricketts is MBARI's next generation ROV. The system breaks new ground in providing an integrated unmanned submersible research platform, with many powerful features providing efficient, reliable and precise sampling and data collection in a wide range of missions.

Laser Raman spectrometer DORISS2

By bouncing a specially tuned laser beam off of almost any object or substance—solid, liquid, or gas—a laser Raman spectrometer can provide information about that object's chemical composition and molecular structure.

Push cores

A push-core looks like a clear plastic tube with a rubber handle on one end. Just as its name implies, the push core is pushed down into loose sediment using ROV Tiburon's manipulator arm. As the sediment fills up the core, water exits out the top through one-way valves. When the core is pulled up again, these valves close, which (most of the time) keeps the sediment from sliding out of the core tube. When we bring these cores back to the surface, we typically look for living animals and organic material in the sediments.


Vibracoring is a common technique used to obtain samples from water-saturated sediment. These corers work by attaching a motor that induces high frequency vibrations in the core liner that in turn liquefies the sediment directly around the core cutter, enabling it to pass through the sediment with little resistance.

CTD Rosette

A CTD rosette is a cylindrical frame holding a group of plastic water-sampling tubes. Attached to this frame are instruments for measuring water temperature and conductivity (salinity) at various depths. Also attached to the rosette are instruments for measuring parameters such as chlorophyll, nutrients, and particulate matter in the water. As the frame is lowered over the side of a ship, water samples are taken automatically at various depths. Then the frame is raised to the surface again.

 Research Team

Peter Brewer
Senior Scientist, MBARI

Peter has taken part in more than 30 deep-sea cruises, and has served as chief scientist on major expeditions and on more than 90 ROV dives with MBARI ships and vehicles. His research interests include the ocean geochemistry of the greenhouse gases. He has devised novel techniques both for measurement and for extracting the oceanic signatures of global change. At MBARI his current interests include the geochemistry of gas hydrates, and the evolution of the oceanic fossil fuel CO2 signal. He has developed novel techniques for deep ocean laser Raman spectroscopy, and for testing the principles and impacts of deep ocean CO2 injection.

Ed Peltzer
Senior Research Specialist, MBARI

Ed is an ocean chemist who has been with MBARI since 1997. He has been involved in developing instrumentation and analytical techniques to study the composition of gases in gas hydrates and deep-sea vents. He has also collaborated on the development of new instrumentation for the measurement of temperature and pH from an ROV. As the group's project manager, Ed is also responsible for expedition planning and logistics.

Peter Walz
Senior Research Technician, MBARI

Peter has worked as a research technician for a variety of scientists at MBARI. Most recently he has supported the research efforts of Dr. Peter Brewer and his interests in the ocean chemistry of greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide. Peter assists with the design, testing and deployment of the ocean going science hardware and works closely with the marine operations group to integrate new equipment to work with MBARI's ROV's.

Andreas Hofmann
Postdoctoral Fellow, MBARI

Andreas is a MBARI Postdoctoral Fellow in the Brewer lab. He obtained a PhD in marine biogeochemistry in the Netherlands after his biology undergraduate and bioinformatics graduate studies in Germany. Andreas' specialty is pelagic and benthic biogeochemical modeling with a focus on pH and proton cycling. At MBARI, Andreas is working on the relation between pH and soundspeed, the characterization of marine "dead zones", the development of a sediment model to estimate biogeochemical rates from pore-water methane profiles obtained with the group's deep sea sediment Raman Probe, and on a few other related topics. On this cruise, Andreas will be involved in experiments using the mid-water CO2 and O2 control system and the sediment Raman probe, as well as in various data processing tasks.

Melissa Luna
Summer Intern, MBARI

Melissa is an MBARI 2010 Summer Intern working in the Brewer lab. She is a graduate of College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina with a BS in Chemistry. This summer Melissa will be working on using laser Raman techniques to examine hydrogen sulfide and bisulfide signals as a function of pH in marine pore waters in sea floor sediments.

Nancy Barr
Web/Print Project Manager, MBARI

Nancy manages the editing, design, and production of the MBARI annual report and participates in a variety of editorial and communication projects. She also oversees the institute website. Nancy has been to sea with several MBARI research groups, helping them to carefully remove worms from whale bones, annotate video, sift seafloor sediment, and collect and process water samples. For this expedition she will be in charge of the daily reports that will be posted to this website and will assist with other science crew tasks.

Xin Zhang
Seafloor Hydrothermal Activity Laboratory
Key Lab of Marine Geology and Environment
Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Xin Zhang is a former MBARI student of Peter Brewer and Bill Kirkwood. He was involved in the development of a Deep-Sea Raman Probe for the measurement of sediment pore-water geochemistry.

Zeng Zhigang
Director, Seafloor Hydrothermal Activity Laboratory
Key Laboratory of Marine Geology and Environment
Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Zeng Zhigang's research interests are in hydrothermal vents, geochemistry, economic geology, and the exploration of geology and mineral resources. He is on this expedition to learn more about MBARI's tools and methods for study ocean chemistry.