Launching our 2021 E/V Nautilus season, researchers will spend two days exploring oxygen minimum zones off the coast of southern California and seven days conducting seafloor mapping within the traditional and modern lands and waters of the Tongva, Kizh, and Chumash peoples. This expedition starts in San Pedro, where we will conduct three days of exploratory work to support Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Harvard University researchers in their NASA-funded projects in the Santa Barbara Basin. Here, ROV Hercules will collect pushcore samples in sediments with microbial mats and foraminifera, as well as measure oxygen content, conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) of the water while exploring across the varying oxygen gradient on the seafloor and through the water column.
We will also deploy the Autonomous Biogeochemical Instrument for in situ Studies (ABISS) lander, a prototype for a wireless seafloor sampling tool that will be used to study microbial activity, measure ambient light, and conduct an incubation experiment autonomously on the seafloor.
The expedition will then continue north to Astoria, Oregon using the multibeam echosounder and sub-bottom profiler to map gaps in seafloor bathymetry in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. An analysis published in January 2020 showed that nearly one-quarter of the Pacific EEZ off the Washington, Oregon and California coasts has yet to be mapped. Mapping on this expedition will contribute directly to filling these gaps in the U.S. EEZ and also aligns with the goals of Seabed 2030, a global initiative to explore uncharted ocean areas.
This expedition is sponsored by NOAA Ocean Exploration through the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute, NASA, and Harvard University.