New Frontiers in Ocean Exploration: The 2011 E/V NAUTILUS Field Season


In the summer of 2011, the Exploration Vessel NAUTILUS is undertaking a four-month expedition to the Black, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, and North Atlantic Ocean. The primary goal of the NAUTILUS is to create a focus of international leadership for the development and integration of leading-edge technologies, educational programs, field operations, and public outreach programs for ocean exploration, in partnership with NOAA, National Geographic Society, Office of Naval Research, and other sponsors. To do so, the program uses a complement of deep submergence vehicle systems and “telepresence” technologies to engage scientists, educators and the public, both at sea and ashore, allowing them to become integral members of the on-board exploration team. When discoveries are made, experts ashore are notified and brought aboard virtually within a short period of time to help guide shipboard response before the ship moves on. The 2011 expedition is currently in progress, and is comprised of eight areas of interest. Extensive sidescan mapping is taking place off the Turkish coasts of the Black and Aegean Seas, and will be followed by remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives on targets of archaeological, geological and biological interest. In the Black Sea, additional work on the porewater chemistry of the sediments in the oxic, suboxic and anoxic zones will take place. High-resolution multibeam, stereo imaging and structured light mapping, as well as sediment and water sampling, will be carried out at two locations in the Hellenic Volcanic Arc, the Kolumbo underwater volcano and deep Cretan Basin. We will also carry out transects on the unexplored slopes of the volcanic Christianna Domes, located near Santorini volcano. We will use ROVs equipped with MAPRs and ORP sensors to search for and investigate hydrothermal activity on seamounts and other suspected venting sites in the Aeolian Arc and Straits of Sicily. In the western Mediterranean, the submarine canyons and Mazarron Escarpment off the east coast of Spain are primary targets for investigating the movement of sediment into the deep sea, deep benthic communities, and tectonic movement between the European and African plates. We will carry out transects on the slopes of Gorringe Bank, which lies on the Azores-Gibraltar transform plate boundary, to survey for faulting, venting and benthic communities. The final area of interest is the eastern Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel, where the outer continental shelf and slope will be acoustically and visually surveyed for potential targets of archaeological, biological and geological interest.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union (AGU)

Conference Date

Dec 5 - Dec 9, 2011

Publisher Place

San Francisco, CA, USA


American Geophysical Union Publications

Document Type

Conference Proceeding