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ODU Student Hits the High Seas to Map Underwater Canyons

On Tuesday, May 29, an Old Dominion University (ODU) student hit the high seas to map the deep sea canyons that separate the mid-Atlantic’s continental shelf from the ocean abyss.

Okeanos Explorer docks in Norfolk to prepare for an early June research cruise to the map the mid-Atlantic's deep sea canyons. ©Janet Krenn/VASG

Okeanos Explorer docks in Norfolk to prepare for an early June research cruise to the map the mid-Atlantic's deep sea canyons. ©Janet Krenn/VASG

By Janet Krenn

On Tuesday, May 29, an Old Dominion University (ODU) student hit the high seas to map the deep sea canyons that separate the mid-Atlantic’s continental shelf from the ocean abyss.

William Boll will spend is about two weeks aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Okeanos Explorer. For Boll, a master’s student studying physical oceanography, the internship is an exciting opportunity.

“Ever since I wanted to study oceanography, I knew I wanted to work with NOAA,” Boll said after touring the Okeanos Explorer a few days before departure. “Also, this internship ties in well with my research because they too analyze acoustic data,” one tool Boll is using in his own research studying wave energy.

Okeanos Explorer uses multi-beam sonar to create topographic maps of the ocean floor and can beam video and sonar data to scientists on shore in real time.

An active part of NOAA’s research fleet since 2010, the Okeanos Explorer is the only federal ship dedicated to systematically exploring the ocean. In addition to sonar, the ship carries and deploys camera sled called Seirios for taking high definition, wide angle video of the ocean floor, as well as a remotely operated vehicle called Little Hercules for taking close up shots of deep-sea plants and animals.

While aboard, Boll will work with the mapping team, processing sonar and acoustic data. Although it’s his first time out to sea on such a large ship, Boll was undaunted as he prepared for the trip.

“This is a great opportunity,” he said. “I mean, who wouldn’t want to do it?”

Want to see what Little Hercules sees during Boll’s research cruise? Check out the real time video feed below and find more real time video feeds on the Okeanos Explorer website.

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