The Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas at Austin has one of its scientists aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) vessel Okeanos Explorer on an expedition to conduct exploratory investigations on the diversity and distribution of deep-sea habitats and marine life in the Gulf of Mexico basin.
Jamie Austin, a senior research scientist with UTIG, elaborated on the expedition’s purpose as the ship left Pascagoula, Miss., on April 10 for the third leg of the voyage that began Feb. 24.
“We will be exploring the deep Gulf of Mexico and part of the West Florida Escarpment using their new ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) for the next three weeks or so,” Austin stated in an email.
“I will be doing voiceovers of the dives from the geologic perspective, as I did out here for NOAA 2 years ago, and as I have done in the past on Ballard’s exploration vessel Nautilus.”
Kelley Elliot, expedition manager for NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, stated in a press release, “In the coming weeks, we expect to explore cold seeps, deep coral communities, undersea canyons, shipwrecks, and perhaps even mud volcanoes and brine pools.”
Elliot added that this expedition is the second field season to utilize NOAA’s 6,000-meter ROV Deep Discoverer and the Seirios camera sled and lighting platform on the Okeanos Explorer.
“When these seafloor observing systems are deployed from the ship, we will be able to provide scientists and audiences onshore with real-time video footage from deep-water areas in important, yet largely unknown, U.S. waters,” Elliot noted.
Austin, who earned his Ph.D. at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is also chair of the American Geophysics Union Development Board, charged with guiding fundraising activities of the Union in association with Union staff. He serves as a graduate research advisor or co-advisor to candidates for both masters and doctoral degrees. He has advised students from the Department of Geological Sciences (DGS), The University of Texas at Austin; the Department of Oceanography (DOO), Texas A&M University; and RSMAS, University of Miami.
To read more about Jamie Austin, his research work and previous publications, visit the UTIG website.
The Okeanos Explorer website is still available here.