2016 Expedition
Giant sponge

Southern California Margin

July 24 – August 12, 2016
Lead Scientist
Expedition Leader

In late summer, E/V Nautilus will be offshore Los Angeles to explore some of the most tectonically active (as well as densely populated) areas offshore California. The team will investigate the Southern California Margin, a broad area that fits entirely within the US Exclusive Economic Zone but that still remains largely unexplored. The margin is a heavily trafficked area and has been investigated for over 50 years, by the academic community, federal agencies, military, and petroleum and fisheries industries. However, high-resolution multibeam bathymetric coverage of the seafloor here remains less than 50% complete, leaving much to be discovered.

The California Borderland has an unusually rugged topography linked to the complex tectonic history of the west coast of the United States and includes prominent faults which lie closer than the San Andreas Fault to important centers of urban population. As well as contributing to an improved understanding of the offshore extent of these local geohazards, this cruise will also explore important biological ecosystems that have been found where active fluid flow has been located along such fault systems.

The Ocean Exploration Trust will also be partnering with the MIT Media Lab during this cruise to provide a test platform for research projects. MIT Media Lab students will deploy and test a new type of origami-based folding coral habitat structure. They will also be testing data visualization processes to introduce new open source technology and tools for Nautilus and the team. OET’s Honors Research Program students will deploy four oceanographic drifters to document the complexities of California’s surface currents.

Meet the Team

Expedition Posts

Selected Publications


Rodríguez-Flores, P.C., Seid, C.A., Rouse, G.W., Giribet, G. (2023). Cosmopolitan abyssal lineages? A systematic study of East Pacific deep-sea squat lobsters (Decapoda: Galatheoidea: Munidopsidae) . Invertebrate Systematics https://www.publish.csiro.au/is/pdf/IS22030


Castillo, C. M., Klemperer, S. L., Ingle, J. C., Powell, C. L., Legg, M. R., & Francis, R. D. (2019). Late quaternary subsidence of santa catalina island, california continental borderland, demonstrated by seismic-reflection data and fossil assemblages from submerged marine terraces. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America 131(1-2): 21-42.
Gugliotti, E., DeLorenzo, M., Etnoyer, P. (2019). Depth-dependent temperature variability in the Southern California bight
with implications for the cold-water gorgonian octocoral Adelogorgia
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 514-515: 118-126.


Conrad, J., Prouty, N., Walton, M., Kluesner, J., Maier, K., McGann, M., Brothers, D., Roland, E., Dartnell, P. (2018). Seafloor fluid seeps on Kimki Ridge, offshore southern California: Links to active strike-slip faulting. Deep Sea Research II 150: 82-91.
Hewson, I., Bistolas, K., Quijano Cardé, E., Button, J., Foster, P., Flanzenbaum, J., Kocian, J., Lewis, C. (2018). Investigating the Complex Association Between Viral Ecology, Environment, and Northeast Pacific Sea Star Wasting. New Frontiers in Marine Science 5: 77.
McGann, M., Conrad, J. (2018). Faunal and stable carbon isotopic analyses of benthic foraminifera from the Southeast cold seep on Kimki Ridge offshore southern California, USA. Deep Sea Research II 150: 92-117.