The Central California expedition, in partnership with Harvard University, focused on testing new equipment and exploring methane seep sites near Point Dume. The ABISS (Autonomous Biogeochemical instrument for In Situ Studies) lander was tested for the first time on this expedition. This is the beginning prototype for a wireless seafloor sampling tool which will be able to study microbial activity and geochemistry autonomously on the seafloor. ABISS will eventually include a full suite of sampling tools including a laser spectrometer, mass spectrometer, cameras, sediment traps, and perhaps even a manipulator arm.
A huge success for first deployment testing, the lander’s optical modem transmitted live video of ROV Hercules wirelessly underwater to ROV Hercules.
E/V Nautilus will move north along Central California’s shoreline, renowned for natural rugged beauty that parallels underwater features. In the deep waters off the coast, numerous submarine canyons cross-cut the continental slope, some of which feature exposed canyon walls rich in methane and other chemicals that support unique microbial and animal communities. Sediments carried by longshore currents also often end up in these canyons, transporting organic matter into the deep sea.