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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012-1178

Profile Measurements and Data From the 2011 Optics, Acoustics, and Stress In Situ (OASIS) Project at the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory


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This report documents data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for the Coastal Model Applications and Field Measurements project under the auspices of the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research Optics, Acoustics, and Stress In Situ (OASIS) Project. The objective of the measurements was to relate optical and acoustic properties of suspended particles to changes in particle size, concentration, and vertical distribution in the bottom boundary layer near the seafloor caused by wave- and current-induced stresses. This information on the physics of particle resuspension and aggregation and light penetration and water clarity will help improve models of sediment transport, benthic primary productivity, and underwater visibility.

There is well-established technology for acoustic profiling, but optical profiles are more difficult to obtain because of the rapid attenuation of light in water. A specially modified tripod with a moving arm was designed to solve this problem by moving instruments vertically in the bottom boundary layer, between the bottom and about 2 meters above the seafloor. The profiling arm was designed, built, and tested during spring and summer 2011 by a team of USGS scientists, engineers, and technicians. To accommodate power requirements and the large data files recorded by some of the optical instruments, the tripod was connected via underwater cable to the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory, operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). This afforded real-time Internet communication with the embedded computers aboard the tripod. Instruments were mounted on the profiling arm, and additional instruments were mounted elsewhere on the tripod and nearby on the seafloor. The tripod and a small mooring for a profiling current meter were deployed on September 17, 2011, at the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory 12-meter-deep underwater node about 2 kilometers south of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Divers assisted in the deployment and cleaned the instrument surfaces on the tripod approximately once per week until the tripod and current meter were recovered on October 23, 2011. There was a range of wave and current conditions during the 36-day deployment, including the distant passage of Hurricane Ophelia, several moderate wave events, and a significant local gale that generated wave heights greater than 4 meters at the 12-meter site and knocked over the tripod 3 days before it was recovered. All but one of the instruments functioned well and provided complete datasets. The details of these data and the location of files containing the best basic version of the data are described in this report.

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