October 2, 2020 - voyage update
What part of the canyon have you been operating in so far?
Our focus has been on the middle to lower canyon, about 20 km off the Kaikōura coast. We recovered the AUV this morning in perfect calm conditions, and are now processing the data. It will take a while before the data can be interpreted.
What have you been able to see? Have you detected any notable changes since the last survey was done in 2017?
We have collected some DTIS towed video camera footage and the first indication is that ecosystem is recovering well.
What new understanding do we hope to gain?
We are mostly interested in understanding the physical process that has removed such a huge amount of sediment and rock from the canyon. This is a rare opportunity because we know from our previous work that there has a been a very large change recently and this is unusual in the deep ocean.
Why is it important to understand more about the changes in the canyon?
Submarine canyons are the bridge between the land and the deep ocean, connecting sedimentary sedimentary systems, capturing carbon and supporting rich ecosystems. We have little knowledge of what happens to these marine hotspots after massive disturbances like the 2016 Kaikōura Earthquake and we need to make the most of this opportunity. The multi-faceted experiments we are doing on this voyage will provide information relevant to many of the worlds continental margins. For New Zealand, this is a first: we have never collected AUV data or deployed sediment traps in our canyons. We hope this is just the start of a new era of high resolution canyon observations.