Atlantic Canyons Undersea Mapping 2012 Expeditions

Expedition Summaries

Below are summaries from expeditions conducted between February and August 2012 by NOAA and external partners tp map deepwater canyons off the northeastern seaboard.

  • Atlantic Canyons Undersea Mapping Expeditions Project Summary

    By The ACUMEN Team

    Image includes locations of towed camera operations conducted during a NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow expedition in July 2012.

    What began as informal dialogue among NOAA and external colleagues early this year quickly evolved into a major field campaign focused on surveying the deepwater canyons along the break of the continental shelf between Virginia and New England. Between February and August 2012, we completed all five component cruises of the Atlantic Canyons Undersea Mapping Expeditions (ACUMEN) project.

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  • Expedition 4: Deep-sea Coral Survey Aboard the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow

    By Martha Nizinski

    Orange brisingid sea stars (Freyella sp.) are common on sedimented rock at 1,703 meters in southwestern Toms Canyon.
    Many brittle stars scattered over pebbled sediment at 1,965 meters in Gilbert Canyon.

    The 2012 Atlantic Canyons Undersea Mapping Expeditions (ACUMEN) field efforts finished with a deep-sea coral survey cruise aboard NOAA Fisheries Survey Vessel Henry B. Bigelow. Our overall goal was to survey and ground-truth known or suspected deep-sea coral habitats associated with deepwater canyons off the coast of the northeastern U.S. In particular, we wanted to survey canyon areas using a towed camera system to characterize benthic (bottom) habitats and identify areas where corals are present; ground-truth areas predicted to be coral hotspots based on data provided from a habitat suitability model; ground-truth newly collected multibeam data; and ground-truth historical coral records.

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  • Expedition 3: Coastal Ocean Mapping Aboard the NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler

    By LCDR Ben Evans

    NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler on commissioning day, June 8, 2012.

    NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler is the newest ship in NOAA’s fleet, and is specifically designed for coastal ocean mapping. The ship is equipped with a range of echosounder systems, which allow us to produce high-resolution three-dimensional maps of the seabed in depths up to about 500 meters. Hassler’s participation in the ACUMEN project was the result of a mutually beneficial collaboration between NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, and Northeast Fisheries Science Center.

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  • Expedition 2: Ocean Floor Mapping from the Perspective of an Intern and an Interview with a Marine Ecologist

    By Meredith Meyers

    Intern Meredith Myers and marine ecologist Dave Packer viewing canyon data using Fledermaus software in the Okeanos Explorer control room.

    It is often said that we know more about the surface of the moon than we know about the surface of the seafloor. After serving as an intern aboard the Okeanos Explorer during the ship’s second cruise as part of the Atlantic Canyons Undersea Mapping Expeditions project, it is hard to argue with this comparison. It is impossible to grasp the sheer expanse of the oceans until you have spent time on the water, far away from shore.

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  • Expedition 1: Veatch Canyon Shakedown Cruise 2012: Okeanos Voyage from Davisville, RI, to Charleston, SC

    By Meme Lobecker and Adam Skarke

    Approximately 900 square kilometers of seafloor were mapped during focused survey operations at Block, Ryan, and McMaster Canyons as part of this expedition.

    "EX1201" was the first expedition of the 2012 field season for NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. The primary objective of this shakedown cruise was to operationally test the vessel, its systems, and all mission equipment. A secondary objective of the expedition was to use the ship’s technologically advanced multibeam sonar to map three Northeast and Mid-Atlantic canyon areas in support of the benthic habitat identification and management efforts of NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC).

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