Research > Overview
Department of Marine Science faculty conduct research across a broad spectrum of sub-disciplines including data assimilation, ocean optics, coastal and marine sedimentology, micropaleontology, ocean productivity, remote sensing, acoustics, ocean modeling, molecular ecology, and biogeochemistry.
- CENGOOS (Central Gulf Ocean Observing System)
- CETA (Center for Trace Analysis)
- Hydrographic Science Research Center
- The Northern Gulf Institute
- UVTC (Undersea Vehicle Technology Center)
Current faculty includes scientists who have been educated at the top oceanographic institutions in the world (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Texas A&M University, University of Hawaii, University of Wales, University of Rhode Island).
Our talented faculty is competitive on a national scale in obtaining research funds, allowing faculty members and students to participate in a variety of national and international projects. For example, DMS faculty are involved in research projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Ocean Drilling Program, the Naval Research Laboratory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Energy, and the Office of Naval Research, among others.
Projects deal with environments as disparate as the Southern Ocean near Antarctica to the marshes of coastal MS, LA, and TX. DMS faculty includes a past winner of the American Geophysical Union's Sverdrup Prize and a recent recipient of a U.S. Department of Interior Appreciation Award. A recent National Science Foundation research grant to a DMS faculty member has allowed the department to become one of a select number of U.S. academic institutions possessing specialized mass spectrometric equipment for ultra-trace element determinations.
Special Research Equipment
The Department of Marine Science has certain research facilities that warrant special mention because of the extraordinary research opportunities these items provide:
- Element 2 High Resolution Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometer (HR-ICP-MS) This instrument uses a radio frequency coil to turn a stream of argon gas into a high energy plasma. An ICP is an efficient means of generating ions from a sample aspirated into the plasma. Many labs today have an ICP emission spectrometer-a device that looks optically at the plasma to quantify elements present in the aspirated sample. These ICP emission spectrometers have detection limits in the ppm to ppb range, depending on the element.
Since 1984, ICP's have been coupled with mass spectrometers, which are one of the most sensitive ion analyzers/ detectors available. Most ICP-MS instruments utilize a quadrupole mass spectrometer and have a sensitivity in the low ppb range for many elements.Recently, a new type of ICP-MS has become available that utilizes a high resolution (i.e., double focusing, sector field) mass spectrometer: hence, high resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry or HR-ICP-MS. The high resolution mass spectrometer allows many interferences to be distinguished and in most cases provides detection limits in the parts-per-trillion (ppt) to parts-per-quadrillion (ppq) range. Many isotope ratios can be determined to better than ±0.1%.
- Benthos Open Frame ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) system: This ROV is capable of operating to a depth of 300m and is equipped with an Insite Scorpio digital camera and a Deep Sea Power and Light collimated strobe illumination system configured for imaging marine snow aggregates. There is also, an ORE Trackpoint II acoustic navigation system, Imagenex 881A sector scanning sonar, tether reel with slip rings, a control/shipping van and associated equipment.
- International Submarine Engineering (ISE) Autonomous Undersea Vehicle (AUV) “Eagle Ray”: This AUV system was purchased by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for use in seafloor mapping and for projects aimed at developing new technologies, sensors, or techniques. The vehicle is capable of diving to 2,200m and travelling at speeds up to 5 knots during dives lasting as long as 24 hours. It derives its navigation at the surface using GPS but, once submerged, it uses a combined inertial and acoustic/Doppler (Kearfott SeaDeViL) system for totally autonomous navigation. Bathymetric data are obtained using a Simrad EM2000 200kHz multibeam echosounder.
- Webb Research Slocum glider: This glider is gravity-propelled and is capable of covering over 100km in a single mission. It is equipped with wings and a buoyancy regulating system. To move forward, it makes itself heavy and begins to sink but the wings act to propel it forward as it descends on a diagonal path. When it reaches a predetermined depth, it makes itself buoyant and again moves forward as it rises. By repeatedly yo-yoing like this, the glider can navigate for long distances, deriving its position fixes from GPS while at the surface. The glider is equipped with standard CTD sensors as well as optical sensors for measuring optical backscatter and chlorophyll fluorescence. Data are acquired continuously when the glider is in motion, producing two-dimensional records of the distribution of the measured parameters.