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R/V Sharp on Mid-Atlantic mission

UD alumna among scientists aboard R/V Sharp for USGS-led expedition on Mid-Atlantic methane seeps

A multi-institutional team led by United States Geological Survey (USGS) scientists is nearing the end of a nine-day research cruise aboard the R/V Hugh R. Sharp — the University of Delaware’s 146-foot coastal research vessel — to explore methane seeps in the Atlantic Ocean.

The IMMeRSS (Interagency Mission for Methane Research at Seafloor Seeps) expedition focuses on the geology, ecology, chemistry, and physics of methane seeps on the U.S. Mid-Atlantic margin between Baltimore Canyon and Hatteras Canyon at water depths of 400-1,600 meters (1,300-5,250 feet).

The expedition is a collaborative effort between the USGS and the British Geological Survey, with support from NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER), the USGS and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The research cruise runs through Thursday, May 11, and can be viewed via live stream video, courtesy of the Global Explorer remotely operated vehicle (ROV), managed and operated by Oceaneering Inc.

UD alumna among scientists onboard

Methane seeps are natural gas leaks in the sea floor that emit methane into the water. The IMMeRSS mission is to determine the timing of methane emissions relative to major oceanographic and climate events since the last Ice Age.

UD alumna Jill Bourgue, who earned master’s and doctoral degrees at UD in 2005 and 2009, is among the scientists using a multibeam sonar to map the seafloor and detect the methane plumes. She is now a biologist with the USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Learn more about the cruise here.

About the R/V Hugh R. Sharp

The R/V Hugh R. Sharp is a 146-foot, state-of-the-art coastal research vessel that operates as a member of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS).

Based out of UD’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes and managed and operated by the marine operations staff in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Envrionment’s School of Marine Science and Policy, the vessel is a regional asset, serving researchers from many institutions throughout the Mid-Atlantic, including faculty researchers and scientists at UD.

Thanks to its modular design, the vessel is capable of supporting a wide range of marine disciplines including chemical, geological, physical, and biological sciences, as well as atmospheric, acoustics, fisheries, and marine mammal research.


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