Big find for CSIRO's Southern Surveyor
a developer of systems that allow us to look into the hidden secrets
of the oceans, Kongsberg Maritime has played its part in many amazing
discoveries over the years. Scientists all over the world use our
hydroacoustic technology to get a clear view on what is happening
below the waves.
Some projects support industry in
locating and extracting vital resources or help scientists to present
a stunning picture of the exotic plant and animal life below the surface.
Other projects, like a recently concluded survey aboard the Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's (CSIRO) RV Southern
Surveyor, help us peer into the past, giving a greater understanding
of the geology that has shaped our world. Researchers from the University
of Sydney, Macquarie University and the University of Tasmania led
an international team of scientists on the voyage to map the seafloor
of the Perth Abyssal Plain. The expedition returned to Perth in November
after a three-week voyage, bringing with them results that really
do ignite the imagination.
Looking into the past
the remote waters of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, scientists aboard
RV Southern Surveyor discovered two sunken islands, almost the size
of Tasmania, which were once part of the supercontinent Gondwana.
the Cretaceous period when dinosaurs roamed the Earth (more than 130
million years ago), India was adjacent to Western Australia. When
India began to break away from Australia, the islands formed part
of the last link between the two continents.
islands, referred to as 'micro-continents' by scientists, were separated
from both landmasses and stranded in the Indian Ocean, thousands of
kilometres from the Australian and Indian coasts.
collected on the voyage could significantly change our understanding
of the way in which India, Australia and Antarctica broke off from
Gondwana," said Dr Joanne Whittaker, a postdoctoral fellow at the
University of Sydney's School of Geosciences.
Post-processing results from
the EM 300 hydrographic multibeam echo sounder
A suite of cutting-edge hydro acoustic instruments
is the largest delivery in an integrated package of Kongsberg Maritime
technology (including hydrographic, fishery research, geophysics,
navigation, Dynamic Positioning and CCTV systems) that the RRS Discovery
is being fitted with. Their benefits are many, as Carrasco explains:
"The hydro acoustics are advanced enough to identify individual fish
species; the manoeuvring system uses dynamic positioning, allowing
the vessel to remain in exactly the same spot when underwater vehicles
or sensors are deployed. And the hydro acoustic mapping system produces
large real-time 3D imaging of the seabed, with a dimension corridor
11,000 metres deep and up to 42 kilometres wide."
Maritime has provided systems for many advanced research vessels,
the RRS Discovery is in a class of its own with regard to complexity
and systems integration: "It has involved lots of advanced engineering,"
says Vicente. "The 121-square-metres of laboratory has space for up
to 28 scientists. In dialogue with NERC, we have created intuitive
interfaces that allow flexible graphic presentation of research data
– so it's hardly a standard delivery." In close co-operation
with NERC, high levels of integration have been developed across the
entire package. "We have become more than a systems supplier for RRS
Discovery, through working closely with the shipyard and NERC during
the entire project," comments Vicente. "We are providing the dedicated
project management service that this type of project demands."
collaboration between NERC and Kongsberg Maritime to develop and integrate
systems for RRS Discovery is an exciting process for Carrasco and
his colleagues: "NERC is a highly advanced organisation with highly
specific needs; they represent the sort of challenge that brings out
the best in us... that focuses everyone on win-win knowledge development."
Kongsberg Maritime can deliver high-level integration because
it is the only supplier with a full portfolio of maritime systems,
from bridge navigation to biomass monitoring: "The combination of
our integration experience and the interoperability of our systems
gives a shipyard complete confidence in our ability to deliver," continues
Bottom samples from
the depth of 1.5 km
the scientists to acquire this data was the suite of Kongsberg Maritime
hydroacoustic sensors and systems aboard the RV Southern Surveyor,
Simrad EK60 scientific echo sounder
Simrad EK500 scientific echo sounder
KONGSBERG EA 500 hydrographic echo sounder
KONGSBERG EM 300 multibeam hydrographic echo sounder
KONGSBERG PS 018 Sub-bottom profiler
Travelling on RV Southern Surveyor the scientists discovered
the islands through detailed seafloor mapping using the EM 300 multibeam
system and by the challenging collection of rocks from the abyss more
than 1.5 km below the surface. The collection of the rocks was a key
aspect to the mission according to the University of Sydney's Dr Simon
Williams, the chief scientist on the expedition, who commented: "A
detailed analysis of the rocks dredged up during the voyage will tell
us about their age and how they fit into the Gondwana jigsaw".
seafloor mapping using the KONGSBERG equipment provided a very clear
view of the geology below the surface. The scientists were presented
with stunning images of the underwater land masses. This was a vital
element of the data that the team brought back with them.
preliminary analysis of the magnetic data that we collected could
cause us to rethink the whole plate tectonic story for the whole of
the eastern Indian Ocean," added Dr. Whittaker.
took place aboard Australia's Marine National Facility's Research
Vessel Southern Surveyor, which is owned and managed by CSIRO. The
operations are funded by the Australian government and overseen by
a government-appointed steering committee.
The original version
of this story can be found on the University of Sydney's website here:
CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and
Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia's national science
agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in
The Marine National Facility
The Marine National Facility
is owned and managed by CSIRO on behalf of the nation, with its
operations funded by the Australian Government to enable oceanographic,
geoscientific, fishery and ecosystem research.
The ship, RV
Southern Surveyor, is Australia's only dedicated national blue-water
research vessel and it is used by marine scientists to explore and
study Australia's vast oceans. Access to the Marine National Facility
is open to Australian researchers and their international collaborators,
and is allocated on the basis of scientific merit through robust and
accountable peer review of scientific applications to use the Facility.