Southern California Margin
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.