Mid-ocean ridge exploration with an autonomous underwater vehicle

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Yoerger, Dana R.
Bradley, Albert M.
Jakuba, Michael V.
Tivey, Maurice A.
German, Christopher R.
Shank, Timothy M.
Embley, Robert W.
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Human-occupied submersibles, towed vehicles, and tethered remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) have traditionally been used to study the deep seafloor. In recent years, however, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) have begun to replace these other vehicles for mapping and survey missions. AUVs complement the capabilities of these pre-existing systems, offering superior mapping capabilities, improved logistics, and better utilization of the surface support vessel by allowing other tasks such as submersible operations, ROV work, CTD stations, or multibeam surveys to be performed while the AUV does its work. AUVs are particularly well suited to systematic preplanned surveys using sonars, in situ chemical sensors, and cameras in the rugged deep-sea terrain that has been the focus of numerous scientific expeditions (e.g., those to mid-ocean ridges and ocean margin settings). The Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE) is an example of an AUV that has been used for over 20 cruises sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration (OE), and international and private sources. This paper summarizes NOAA OE-sponsored cruises made to date using ABE.
Author Posting. © Oceanography Society, 2007. This article is posted here by permission of Oceanography Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Oceanography 20, 4 (2007): 52-61.
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Oceanography 20, 4 (2007): 52-61
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