The scientific and technological drivers
The DeepSea Monitoring Group studies short- and long-term changes of seafloor processes. We use hydroacoustic and optical technologies linked with ‘complicated’ post-processing and calibration techniques and combine these methods with geochemical analyses of the water column, the sea surface and the atmosphere.
We have three overarching research topics:
1) Quantification and tracking of methane in the water column and its transport into the atmosphere with hydroacoustic, geochemical and optical techniques: The aim is to establish and validate/verify standardized methods to monitor methane fluxes repeatedly over long time periods while minimizing uncertainties and error potential. One of the main research and monitoring areas is offshore Svalbard, where the group has been performing yearly studies since 2009 often in cooperation with CAGE (Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate).
2) Visual mapping and image-based 4D reconstruction of the seafloor with ROV and AUV-based optical systems. This includes camera calibration and the fusion of acoustic and optical sensor data. At the same time we are involved in developing tools and workflows for storing and annotating 'large' amounts of image data in databases linked to web services. Pattern recognition and machine learning methods are applied to big image data sets using high performance compute cluster infrastructure.
3) Implementation of processing and statistical methods for hydroacoustic seafloor classification for detailed habitat mapping. State-of-the art backscatter analyses are applied in cooperation with TU Delft. Methods like Random-Forest are used for cluster analyses and linked with optical images and sediment grain size analyses to create ground-truthed habitat maps that can be used for monitoring. Research questions focus on the change of activity and the distribution of natural methane seeps as well as on establishing base-line environmental impact assessments for the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ).
As a multi-disciplinary group of natural scientists (geologists, geochemists, oceanographers), informatics engineers (signal processing, photogrammetry), geochemical technicians and precision mechanics we cover a wide field with respect to technology development and application to our scientific questions. Currently we have different Work Topics and are partners in several international Projects. In addition we develop our own Software which you might want to try out.