Three-dimensional perspective of the seafloor of the Bransfield Strait

Three-dimensional perspective of the seafloor of the Bransfield Strait, the ocean basin separating the South Shetland Islands (green topography on the left) and the Antarctic Peninsula (green topography on the right). Click image for larger view, more information and image credit.

Sounds of the Southern Ocean

December 3 - December 13, 2005

Robert P. Dziak
NOAA Vents Program
Oregon State University
Hatfield Marine Science Center

camera icon View a virtual fly-through of a three-dimensional perspective of the Bransfield Strait seafloor. (Quicktime, 2.6 Mb.)

camera icon View a movie that demonstrates the processes involved in detecting a seafloor volcanic eruption using a hydrophone. (Quicktime, 440 Kb.)

The Southern Ocean surrounds Antarctica and serves as a conduit between the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. Yet because of severe climatic conditions, much of this ocean basin remains unexplored. Polar regions play key roles in the global environment and one goal of our project is to document linkages between changes to the Antarctic ice sheet and the volcano-tectonic seafloor processes in the region.  To meet the challenge for continuous monitoring in this extreme environment, during December 2005 we will deploy an array of Autonomous Underwater Hydrophones (AUH). This new ocean-sensor technology uses cold-water capable, deep-ocean hydrophones to provide the first-ever comprehensive record from Antarctica of the sounds generated by moving ice sheets, undersea earthquakes and volcanoes; even vocalizations from large baleen whales. When the AUH array is recovered in 2006, sounds that have been  captured will enable identification of previously unknown volcanically active regions on the seafloor, as well as the location of critical habitat for the great whales.

The geographic names of the study area

The geographic names of the study area that were the focus of the Sounds of the Southern Ocean expedition. The research group flew via Chilean C-130 from Punta Arenas to King George Island. Click image for larger view, more information and image credit.

A map of King George Island and the location of the Korean Antarctic base.

The Sounds of the Southern Ocean expedition will stay at the Korean Antarctic base, King George Island until it is time to board the Russian icebreaker Yuzhmorgeologiya. Click image for larger view, more information and image credit.


Mission Update

We are now back in Chile after a late night C-130 flight from King George Island. The mission was a great sucess and all seven of our long-term hydrophones were deployed without a problem. Our Korean colleagues were incredibly generous both in their hardwork and hospitality while we stayed at the King Sejong base. The Russian ship Yuzhmorgeologiya proved to be a fine vessel with which to do our work, and the Captain and crew were exceptionally dedicated and professional. Unfortunately the food on the ship was too good, and it will take some time to lose the reminder of how well we were fed! The weather was also incredibly nice during the deployments, sunny with calm seas, even in the normally hazardous Drake passage. All of our main mission goals were completed; we successfully deployed all hydrophones and completed an extensive visual survey of marine mammals in the region. We look forward to recovering our deep-sea hydrophone next year and examining the exciting sounds of the Antarctic they have recorded.

Unfortunately our attempts to get a few, brief real-time hydrophone recordings four days into the trip were frustrated since the
weather turned and we were unable to use the ship's zodiac in order to
make a clear recording of natural ocean sounds in the Bransfield
Strait. At one point we even attempted to enter the protected bay of
Deception Island to make recordings, but once again the weather
prevented us from entering the narrow harbor. Such are the difficulties
of working in Antarctica! But we have not yet given up. Dr. Minkyu Park
will try to obtain a real-time recording of ice, marine mammals and
earthquake sounds from the Bransfield Strait when he sets sail on the
Yuzhmorgeologiya again next week. And better still, we hope to enter
the protected waters at the bay in Deception Island during our
expedition next year to get real-time recordings of the active,
high-temperature seafloor hotsprings located in shallow water in
Deception bay.

Related Links

NOAA/PMEL Vents Program and Acoustic Monitoring

Sounds in the ocean file archive

Brief overview of the basic principles of underwater acoustics

Korea Polar Research Institute exit icon


Updates & Logs
Click images or links below for detailed mission logs.

Dec 10 log December 11 The science teams' final destination was Punta Arenas, Chile, but there were several challenges.

Dec 10 log December 10 Poor weather makes landing on Deception Island impossible. Learn the importance of T-waves caused by earthquakes and volcanic activities.

Dec 9 log December 9 The final hydrophone was deployed in Drake Passage on level seafloor.

Dec 8 log December 8 The team continues to actively deploy hydrophones on schedule as the nice weather prevails.

Dec 7 log December 7 Three of the seven hydrophones were deployed during the day thanks to ideal weather and calm seas.

Dec 6 log December 6 The team transfers to the Russian icebreaker Yuzhmorgeologiya and begins assembly of the first hydrophone.

Dec 5 log December 5 A steady breeze under 15 knots allowed a trip to a nearby glacier. Take a journey with them.

Dec 4 log December 4 The weather cooperated for a hike to the nearest penguin colony. Read about their other encounters along the way.

Dec 3 log December 3 The science party assembled at King Sejong Station. Read about their journey to this remote Korean base on King George Island.