Lessons learned from the monitoring of turbidity currents and guidance for future platform designs

Type Article
Date 2020-06
Language English
Author(s) Clare Michael1, Lintern D. Gwyn2, Rosenberger Kurt3, Hughes Clarke John E.4, Paull Charles5, Gwiazda Roberto5, Cartigny Matthieu J. B.6, Talling Peter J.6, Perara Daniel7, Xu Jingping8, Parsons Daniel9, Silva Jacinto Ricardo10, Apprioual Ronan10
Affiliation(s) 1 : National Oceanography Centre, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK
2 : Geological Survey of Canada, Institute of Ocean Science, Canada
3 : United States Geologic Survey, Santa Cruz, USA
4 : Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center, New Hampshire, USA
5 : Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, USA
6 : Departments of Earth Sciences and Geography, Durham, UK
7 : Canadian Coast Guard, Victoria, BC V8V 4V9, Canada
8 : Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, China
9 : Energy and Environment Institute, University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Hull HU6 7RX, UK
10 : Marine Geosciences Unit, IFREMER, Centre de Brest, CS10070, 29280 Plouzané, France
Source Geological Society, London, Special Publications (0305-8719) (Geological Society of London), 2020-06 , Vol. 500 , N. 1 , P. 605-634
DOI 10.1144/SP500-2019-173
Note From: Georgiopoulou, A., Amy, L. A., Benetti, S., Chaytor, J. D., Clare, M. A., Gamboa, D., Haughton, P. D. W., Moernaut, J. and Mountjoy, J. J. (eds) 2020. Subaqueous Mass Movements and their Consequences: Advances in Process Understanding, Monitoring and Hazard Assessments. Geological Society, London, Special publications, 500, 605–634. First published online May 22, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1144/SP500-2019-173

Turbidity currents transport globally significant volumes of sediment and organic carbon into the deep-sea and pose a hazard to critical infrastructure. Despite advances in technology, their powerful nature often damages expensive instruments placed in their path. These challenges mean that turbidity currents have only been measured in a few locations worldwide, in relatively shallow water depths (,,2 km). Here, we share lessons from recent field deployments about how to design the platforms on which instruments are deployed. First, we show how monitoring platforms have been affected by turbidity currents including instability, displacement, tumbling and damage. Second, we relate these issues to specifics of the platform design, such as exposure of large surface area instruments within a flow and inadequate anchoring or seafloor support. Third, we provide recommended modifications to improve design by simplifying mooring configurations, minimizing surface area and enhancing seafloor stability. Finally, we highlight novel multi-point moorings that avoid interaction between the instruments and the flow, and flow-resilient seafloor platforms with innovative engineering design features, such as feet and ballast that can be ejected. Our experience will provide guidance for future deployments, so that more detailed insights can be provided into turbidity current behaviour, in a wider range of settings.

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Clare Michael, Lintern D. Gwyn, Rosenberger Kurt, Hughes Clarke John E., Paull Charles, Gwiazda Roberto, Cartigny Matthieu J. B., Talling Peter J., Perara Daniel, Xu Jingping, Parsons Daniel, Silva Jacinto Ricardo, Apprioual Ronan (2020). Lessons learned from the monitoring of turbidity currents and guidance for future platform designs. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 500(1), 605-634. Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.1144/SP500-2019-173 , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00640/75200/