Scientists to map Otago coast seabed
Wed, 04 Jul 2012 8:19a.m.
Scientists will use multi-million dollar technology which measures the depth of the ocean to map a massive area of seabed off the coast of Otago.
Scientists on board Tangaroa, a National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) vessel, left Wellington on Saturday and will undertake a two-week seismic survey of 25,000 sq km of the ocean floor directly off the coast of the region.
The voyage is part of the Ocean Survey 20/20 project, a 15-year programme which started in 2004 to create maps of much of New Zealand's waters.
NIWA's general manager of research Dr Rob Murdoch told NZ Newswire 300 beams of sound will be projected off a multi-beam echosounder on board the Tangaroa during the expedition.
As the beams bounce off the bottom of the ocean, information about the depth and make up of the seabed is stored on a database on the boat.
"You can get a whole lot of information on a big area so you can map huge areas in amazing details," Dr Murdoch said.
"The strength of the signal will be able to tell us whether it's gravel, sand or rock. By knowing what it is then we will then be able to know if there is any rocky reef habitat or sandy habitat in which case we'd expect to find different animals living in them."
The survey will be used for future protection of marine life, to assess potential risks caused by gas and oil exploration and they can also show where potential undersea landslides might occur.
Over the next two years NIWA will also survey the marine life in the area.
Similar surveys have already been carried out along the Cook Strait, Kermadec Islands, off the east coast of Northland and Hauraki Gulf.
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5/07/2012 3:43:58 p.m.
Such mapping has been unpopular overseas for the noise pollution as the Db of sound is high - like worse than being next to a jet taking off! It can burst membranes in fish over 100km away.Maybe if we were just a bit friendlier with likes of the USA we could just ask for their old maps of our local waters.SEASAT mapped the ocean floor back around 1973 and while its resolution was rubbish (about 1 mtr pixel size) it still gave good mapping around the world. The USA has had better satelites since with a pixel size less than 1mm, ie over 1 billion times the resolution, and all done without the noise polution of echo sounding.
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