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Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs): their past, present and future contributions to the advancement of marine geoscience

Wynn, Russell B.; Huvenne, Veerle A.I.; Le Bas, Timothy P.; Murton, Bramley J.; Connelly, Douglas P.; Bett, Brian J.; Ruhl, Henry A.; Morris, Kirsty J.; Peakall, Jeffrey; Parsons, Daniel R.; Sumner, Esther J.; Darby, Stephen E.; Dorrell, Robert M.; Hunt, James E.. 2014 Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs): their past, present and future contributions to the advancement of marine geoscience. Marine Geology, 352. 451-468. 10.1016/j.margeo.2014.03.012

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Abstract/Summary

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) have a wide range of applications in marine geoscience, and are increasingly being used in the scientific, military, commercial, and policy sectors. Their ability to operate autonomously of a host vessel makes them well suited to exploration of extreme environments, from the World’s deepest hydrothermal vents to beneath polar ice sheets. They have revolutionized our ability to image the seafloor, providing higher resolution seafloor mapping data than can be achieved from surface vessels, particularly in deep water. This contribution focuses on the major advances in marine geoscience that have resulted from AUV data. The primary applications are i) submarine volcanism and hydrothermal vent studies, ii) mapping and monitoring of low-temperature fluid escape features and chemosynthetic ecosystems, iii) benthic habitat mapping in shallow- and deep-water environments, and iv) mapping of seafloor morphological features (e.g. bedforms generated beneath ice or sediment-gravity flows). A series of new datasets are presented that highlight the growing versatility of AUVs for marine geoscience studies, including i) multi-frequency acoustic imaging of trawling impacts on deep-water coral mounds, iii) collection of high-resolution seafloor photomosaics at abyssal depths, and iii) velocity measurements of active submarine density flows. Future developments in AUV technology of potential relevance to marine geoscience include new vehicles with enhanced hovering, long endurance, extreme depth, or rapid response capabilities, while development of new sensors will further expand the range of geochemical parameters that can be measured.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.margeo.2014.03.012
ISSN: 00253227
Additional Keywords: Autonomous Underwater Vehicle; AUV; marine geoscience; seafloor mapping
Date made live: 24 Mar 2014 16:51 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/506657

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