Nicer geophysics means more data

Following the 36th site deployment (out of 39) we have proceeded to make an ocean bottom survey of the Chain Fracture Zone, a major tectonic feature just south of the equator that cuts through the mid-Atlantic ridge. The survey is conducted using an acoustic multi-beam echo sounder. Acoustic signals are transmitted from beneath the hull and reflected back from the ocean bottom.

Seeing the ocean bottom in never-seen-before high resolution is an exciting experience.

Illustration of echo sounding using a multi-beam echo sounder. Figure source: wikimedia.org
Illustration of echo sounding using a multi-beam echo sounder. Figure source: wikimedia.org

The data is then processed in near real time, producing stunning bathymetric maps. Seeing the ocean bottom in never-seen-before high resolution is indeed an exciting experience. This, however, demands larger data storage and higher computing processing power.

The Chain Fracture Zone mapped using multi-beam echo sounder.
The Chain Fracture Zone mapped using multi-beam echo sounder.

For example the bathymetric images generated from a continuous operation require about 3.3 Gigabyte of data a day. More data is compiled by the other instruments (gravimeter, magnetometer, gyroscope, thermosalinograph, weather station, GPS, CHIRP) generating a couple of hundred megabytes a day. This does not take into account the data that is being collected from the 39-ocean bottom magnetotelluric and seismic instruments for the next several months. The reality is that geophysicists need not only be good in geology and physics but also have good computing and data management skills, and be aware of the IT demands needed by their instruments.

The R/V Marcus G Langseth is well equipped with on-board IT facilities, providing various backup storage and operational systems in place. In this regards, the demands for this expedition are on the lower end of what the Langseth is capable of.

The data servers on board the R/V Marcus G Lansegth.
The data servers on board the R/V Marcus G Lansegth.

The reality is that geophysicists need not only be good in geology and physics but also have good computing and data management skills, and be aware of the IT demands needed by their instruments.

Advertisements

One thought on “Nicer geophysics means more data

  1. Pingback: The seismogram of a sailing ship – PILAB

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s