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Media opportunity: Dalhousie researcher successfully deploys autonomous lander to the deepest part of the global ocean and records sound in one of the most extreme environments on Earth

Posted by Communications and Marketing on April 20, 2021 in News

It is one of the most extreme environments on Earth and one that few scientists have ever been able to reach because of pressure so intense that it can easily crush conventional oceanographic equipment.

The Challenger Deep -- the deepest known point in the world’s oceans -- has been largely inaccessible to all but a few scientific instruments that can withstand the pressure nearly 11,000 metres under the sea. Now, a researcher at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S., has just successfully deployed and recovered an autonomous lander from the area, located in the southern tip of the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific.

Dr. David Barclay, an associate professor in the Department of Oceanography and a Canada Research Chair, was part of a team on board DSSV Pressure Drop that lowered the Deep Acoustic Lander (DAL) to the bottom of the trench on April 16, 2021.

The lander, an autonomous free-falling instrument Dr. Barclay developed at Dalhousie that records four channels of audio and the surrounding water properties, was able to record the soundscape in one of the quietest places in the world's oceans -- making it only the second recording from the bottom of the Challenger Deep.

The acoustic and oceanographic data collected on the mission will provide invaluable insight into the fundamental properties of seawater at high pressures, while also informing a depth-dependent noise model of the deep ocean, which can predict underwater noise to both understand and quantify the human impact on the underwater sound field.

Dr. Barclay is available to discuss this remarkable achievement and how Dalhousie’s development of the acoustic lander could mean that no area of the ocean is out of reach.

Please use these links for photos and video assets.

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Media contact:
Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Dalhousie University
Cell: 1-902-220-0491


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