Illuminating the Hidden Planet

THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE

COMMITTEE ON SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORIES: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

OCEAN STUDIES BOARD

COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE Illuminating the Hidden Planet THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE COMMITTEE ON SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORIES: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES OCEAN STUDIES BOARD COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS WASHINGTON, D.C.

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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report and the committee were supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors. International Standard Book Number 0-309-07076-7 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academy Press , 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, D.C. 20055; 1-800-624-6242 or 202-334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internat: http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2000 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.

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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE STEERING COMMITTEE WILLIAM B. F. RYAN, Chair, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, New York ROBERT DETRICK, Vice-Chair, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts KEIR BECKER, University of Miami, Florida JAMES BELLINGHAM, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, California ROGER LUKAS, University of Hawaii, Manoa JOHN LUPTON, NOAA-Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Newport, Oregon LAUREN MULLINEAUX, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts JACK SIPRESS, Sipress Associates, Holmdel, New Jersey Staff ALEXANDRA ISERN, Study Director SHARI MAGUIRE, Research Assistant MEGAN KELLY, Project Assistant

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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE OCEAN STUDIES BOARD KENNETH BRINK, Chairman, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts ARTHUR BAGGEROER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge DANIEL BROMLEY, University of Wisconsin, Madison OTIS BROWN, University of Miami, Florida JAMES COLEMAN, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge CORTIS COOPER, Chevron Petroleum Technology, San Ramon, California G. BRENT DALRYMPLE, Oregon State University, Corvallis EARL DOYLE, Shell Oil (retired), Sugar Land, Texas D. JAY GRIMES, University of Southern Mississippi, Ocean Springs RAY HILBORN, University of Washington, Seattle EDWARD HOUDE, University of Maryland, Solomons CINDY LEE, State University of New York, Stony Brook ROGER LUKAS, University of Hawaii, Manoa NANCY MARCUS, Florida State University, Tallahassee BONNIE MCCAY, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey RAM MOHAN, Gahagan & Bryant Associates, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland SCOTT NIXON, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett NANCY RABALAIS, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Chauvin WALTER SCHMIDT, Florida Geological Survey, Tallahassee PAUL TOBIN, Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, Fairfax, Virginia KARL TUREKIAN, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut Staff MORGAN GOPNIK, Director EDWARD R. URBAN, JR., Senior Program Officer DAN WALKER, Senior Program Officer ALEXANDRA ISERN, Program Officer SUSAN ROBERTS, Program Officer ROBIN MORRIS, Financial Associate SHIREL SMITH, Office Manager SHARI MAGUIRE, Research Assistant ANN CARLISLE, Senior Project Assistant JODI BACHIM, Project Assistant MEGAN KELLY, Project Assistant

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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Chair, University of Virginia, Charlottesville RICHARD A. CONWAY, Union Carbide Corporation (Retired), S. Charleston, West Virginia LYNN GOLDMAN, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland THOMAS E. GRAEDEL, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut THOMAS J. GRAFF, Environmental Defense Fund, Oakland, California EUGENIA KALNAY, University of Maryland, College Park DEBRA KNOPMAN, Progressive Policy Institute, Washington, D.C. BRAD MOONEY, J. Brad Mooney Associates, Ltd., Arlington, Virginia HUGH C. MORRIS, El Dorado Gold Corporation, Vancouver, British Columbia H. RONALD PULLIAM, University of Georgia, Athens MILTON RUSSELL, Joint Institute for Energy and Environment, University of Tennessee (Emeritus), Knoxville ROBERT J. SERAFIN, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado ANDREW R. SOLOW, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts E-AN ZEN, University of Maryland, College Park MARY LOU ZOBACK, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California Staff ROBERT M. HAMILTON, Executive Director GREGORY H. SYMMES, Associate Executive Director JEANETTE SPOON, Administrative and Financial Officer SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate

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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE Foreword Much of what we know about the ocean is the result of ship-based expeditionary science with a tradition dating back to the late 19th century. But, it has become apparent that to answer many important questions in ocean and earth science, a coordinated research effort of long-term investigations of ocean processes is required. Seafloor observatories can provide some of the necessary data sets, while also providing a full-time presence on the seafloor in a variety of environments that have the capability to capture public imagination. Much of the research that is proposed for ocean observatories is interdisciplinary in nature and has the potential to greatly advance oceanographic science at a time when understanding our ocean is of increasing importance to society. This report, Illuminating the Hidden Planet: The Future of Seafloor Observatory Science, continues the efforts of the Ocean Studies Board (OSB) in encouraging interdisciplinary research through many of its reports (NRC, 1998a; NRC, 1999; NRC, 2000). The OSB recognizes that interdisciplinary research plays an important role in ensuring continued vitality of the ocean science community. The significant advances resulting from existing seafloor observatory initiatives have shown the great intellectual potential of observatory science. Recognition of this has encouraged the academic community to begin planning for a major seafloor observatory program. This report encourages the establishment of a seafloor observatory network and provides recommendations to help guide this effort. The seafloor observatory initiative is coming together at a very propitious time, when quantitative interdisciplinary ocean science has become possible on a broad basis. This is an exciting moment for the ocean community. Kenneth Brink Chair, Ocean Studies Board

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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE Preface The Committee on Seafloor Observatories was charged with examining the scientific merit of, technical requirements for, and overall feasibility of establishing a system of seafloor observatories. For the purpose of this report, seafloor observatories are defined as unmanned, fixed systems of instruments, sensors, and command modules connected either acoustically or via a seafloor junction box to a surface buoy or a fiber optic cable to land. These observatories will have power and communication capabilities and will provide support for spatially distributed sensing systems and mobile platforms. Sensors and instruments that are utilized at seafloor observatories will have the potential to collect data from above the air-sea interface to below the seafloor and will provide support for in situ manipulative experiments. An important component of this study was to gauge the level of support for observatory science within the ocean and earth science communities. To this end, the “Symposium on Seafloor Observatories” was designed as an opportunity for comprehensive discussions on the scientific potential and technical needs associated with the establishment of a network of seafloor observatories. This meeting, held in Islamorada, Florida, from January 10-12, 2000, brought together prominent researchers and representatives from all fields of ocean and earth science, and from disciplines as diverse as engineering and planetary exploration. The diverse backgrounds of the attendees meant that there was extensive interdisciplinary interaction. Attendees at the symposium represented overseas institutions, government agencies, private industry, and academia. The committee used the high number of attendees and the very positive response to the symposium by the participants as a measure of the strong community support for a seafloor observatory program.

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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE To encourage active discussions on the scientific potential of seafloor observatories, the Symposium began with keynote lectures on the role of sustained time-series observations for advancing earth and ocean science, presented by a number of distinguished speakers. The topics for these presentations were interdisciplinary in nature and representative of a wide range of research and technical areas. Keynote presentations were followed by a series of breakout groups. The first two breakout groups were divided along interdisciplinary scientific themes. The charges to these groups were designed to determine the potential for seafloor observatories to lead to significant scientific advances in ocean and earth science, and to discuss observatory architectures best suited for investigating these scientific problems. The third breakout group was divided according to the three main observatory types that had been proposed: relocatable, long-term, and global/basin-scale observatories. The charge for this breakout group was to identify the technical requirements needed to establish a network of seafloor observatories. An outcome of these technical discussions was a reformulation of the observatory types originally proposed as it was felt that the main observatory architectures consisted of cable- and mooring-based systems with relocatable systems being a subset of moored-buoy observatories. This new classification is followed in this report. Posters displayed at the symposium demonstrated the extensive multi-disciplinary observatory research currently underway and also showed exciting new scientific areas that can be addressed with long time-series data sets collected with seafloor observatories. Discussions during general sessions, within breakout groups, and at the poster sessions helped provide a clear picture of both the scientific rationale and technical requirements needed to establish an observatory network. An exciting outcome of symposium discussions was recognition of the many interdisciplinary synergies in both measurement type and location. Discussions at the symposium also helped define engineering capabilities required for the establishment of a seafloor observatory network, including identification of specific fields where technological advances are needed. Throughout symposium discussions, the potential scientific and resource trade-offs involved in pursuing a large program of seafloor observatories were recognized. During subsequent committee discussions, a prudent stepwise approach to their establishment was recommended. The purpose of this report is to discuss the scientific rationale and technical feasibility of establishing a seafloor observatory network. The recommendations discussed here will provide the National Science Foundation, and other agencies involved in observatory science, with advice on whether and how to proceed with the establishment of an ocean observatory network. In addition, this document is intended to supply the scientific community with information on observatory science and to initiate further discussion on the

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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE prominent scientific problems that can only be addressed with long time-series measurements. Chapter 1 of this report provides an overview of the rationale for establishing a network of seafloor observatories, a description of the types of observatories discussed in the report, and a description of major proposed and active observatory programs. Chapter 2 discusses the potential of seafloor observatories to address important research areas in ocean and earth science. Chapter 3 describes available technology and the technical development needed to establish the proposed seafloor observatory architectures while Chapter 4 discusses other technical requirements that will be needed. Chapter 5 presents additional issues of significance for establishing a seafloor observatory program, such as project management, data management, and public outreach. Chapter 6 lists the Committee findings and recommendations. William B. F. Ryan Chair, Committee on Seafloor Observatories

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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE Acknowledgments This report and the well-attended and productive Symposium on Seafloor Observatories were greatly enhanced by the symposium participants. In particular, the steering committee would like to acknowledge the efforts of those who gave keynote presentations at the symposium: Carl Wunsch, Stace Beaulieu, Meg Tivey, Anna-Louise Reysenbach, Peter Jumars, Adam Dziewonski, Patrick Trischitta, Dan Frye, Alan Chave, Ken Johnson, Dana Yoerger, and Herb Kroehl. These talks helped the stage for fruitful discussions in the breakout sessions that followed. The steering committee is also grateful to those who led breakout group discussions: Robert Weller, Miriam Kastner, Robin Bell, John Orcutt, Keith Raybould, Chris Fox, Ken Smith, Tommy Dickey, Fred Duennebier, Marv Lilley, Barbara Romanowicz, and Doug Luther. John Delaney is gratefully acknowledged for his enjoyable and informative presentation after the symposium dinner. The efforts of Megan Kelly of the Ocean Studies Board are acknowledged for making the Symposium a well-organized and enjoyable event, and Shari Maguire for ensuring the report process ran smoothly. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the NRC in making the published report as sound as possible, and to ensure that the report meets NRC standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. The committee wishes to thank the following individuals for their participation in

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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE the review of this report: Alice Alldredge (University of California, Santa Barbara), Daniel Frye (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), Nelson Hogg (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), Gary Klinkhammer (Oregon State University), Herbert Kroehl (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Marcia McNutt (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute), Brad Mooney (J. Brad Mooney Associates, Ltd.), Barry Raleigh (University of Hawaii, Manoa), Fred Noel Spiess (University of California, San Diego), James Wenzel (Marine Development Associates, Inc.), Carl Wunsch (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and Dana Yoerger (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution). While the individuals listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, it must be emphasized that responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the NRC.

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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1  1   INTRODUCTION   15      Challenges and Opportunities   15      Why Establish Seafloor Observatories?   19      Types of Seafloor Observatories Discussed in This Report   21      Major Proposed and Active Observatory Programs   22  2   THE SCIENTIFIC POTENTIAL OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORIES   25      Role of the Ocean in Climate   26      Fluids and Life in the Oceanic Crust   34      Dynamics of Oceanic Lithosphere and Imaging Earth's Interior   41      Coastal Ocean Processes   53      Turbulent Mixing and Biophysical Interaction   57      Ecosystem Dynamics and Biodiversity   63  3   SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY ARCHITECTURE: TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS   71      Moored-Buoy Observatories   71      Cabled Observatories   77

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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE  4   OTHER REQUIREMENTS FOR ESTABLISHING A SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY NETWORK   79      Sensor Technology   79      Power Generation Technology   82      Technological Advances in Data Telemetry Technology   83      Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Technology for Seafloor Observatories   86      Remotely Operated Vehicle Technology for Seafloor Observatories   92  5   OTHER SIGNIFICANT ISSUES RELATING TO SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORIES   95      Program and Project Management   95      Information Management   99      Education and Public Outreach   100  6   FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS   102      Findings   102      Benefits and Risks   104      Recommendations   105     REFERENCES   112     APPENDIXES       APPENDIX A  Steering Committee and Staff Biographies   119     APPENDIX B  Symposium Participants   122     APPENDIX C  Symposium Program   125     APPENDIX D  Charges to Breakout Groups   129     APPENDIX E  Acronyms and Abbreviations   134