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Exploring the Deep Waters off Hawaii: Leg 1 

Checking in with the Okeanos Explorer
 

The Okeanos Explorer team has been using Fledermaus since 2009, and were featured in our first Client Spotlight back in November. The Okeanos is currently off of Hawaii, mapping Johnston Atoll. We checked in to see how they are currently using the software. According to Derek Sowers, Physical Scientist with the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research and Expedition Coordinator for the current cruise:

"We are currently routinely using Fledermaus software for visualization of bathymetry and processing of water column and bottom backscatter data. During ROV cruises, we also use it to generate dive transects as an aid to planning ROV dives." 

The following excerpt was taken from article written by Derek, explaining their current mission. The full article can be found here:

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/explorations/ex1504/background/leg1/welcome.html

Hohonu Moana: Exploring the Deep Waters Off Hawai’i:
Johnston Atoll (Mapping)

This 15-day mapping cruise is the first of four legs between July and September comprising the Hohonu Moana: Exploring the Deep Waters off Hawai’i expedition. The expedition will involve mapping and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) operations in the deep waters of the Hawaiian Archipelago, including the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM), and Johnston Atoll – part of the recently expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM).

Mapping data and information collected during Leg 1 of the expedition will help address critical monument science and management priorities. This data will also help expedition team members identify targets for ROVs dives during subsequent expeition legs later this summer.

Leg 1 Mission Plan

Beginning and ending in Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, expedition Leg 1 encompasses an approximately 2,000 nautical mile loop to the remote Johnston Atoll area.

The Kongsberg EM302 multibeam sonar will be calibrated on the first day of the expedition by conducting a “patch test.” This test involves mapping an area of the seafloor from different directions and vessel speeds and ensuring that all of the sensors used to collect the multibeam sonar data are integrated correctly.

Following this calibration work, the ship will transit for three days from Oahu to the Johnston Atoll region, mapping a seafloor fracture zone and the Horizon Tablemount (a large flat-topped ridge feature) along the way. The ship will then spend approximately seven days mapping in the vicinity of Johnston Atoll, with a focus on the peaks and flanks of the Johnston, Hutchinson, and Karin seamounts and associated ridges. This will be the first time these massive underwater mountains have been mapped in detail with ship-based multibeam sonars. The last three days of the expedition will be spent transiting 680 nautical miles from the Johnston Atoll region back to port in Oahu. The ship will be in U.S. waters for almost the entire cruise. 

Leg  1  is  a  mapping  exploration  cruise  that  involving  24-hour  mapping  operations while underway. The ship's sonar systems will be used to collect multibeam sonar, split-beam fisheries sonar, and sub-bottom sonar data will be collected continuously over largely unexplored regions that have never been mapped using sonar. This mapping work produces high-resolution maps of the seafloor and provides acoustic backscatter data information about the seabed and water column. This information will contribute to our understanding of the geological features and likely distribution of habitats within this vast recently-designated marine protected area.

Leg 1 will provide essential baseline mapping and reconnaissance of the region prior to the Leg 4 cruise that will return to the area this September. Mapping work on Leg 1 will enable scientists to choose dive locations for Leg 4, when we explore these deepwater habitats up close with the Deep Discoverer and Seirios remotely operated vehicles.

Cruise map showing the planned operations area for the initial mapping leg. The red line indicates the approximate trackline the ship will follow, and the yellow box indicates the priority area for focused ocean mapping operations. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2015 Hohonu Moana.

 

 

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