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Lessons learned from monitoring of turbidity currents and guidance for future platform designs

April 28, 2020

Turbidity currents transport globally significant volumes of sediment and organic carbon into the deep-sea and pose a hazard to critical infrastructure. Despite advances in technology, their powerful nature often damages expensive instruments placed in their path. These challenges mean that turbidity currents have only been measured in a few locations worldwide, in relatively shallow water depths (<<2 km). Here, we share lessons from recent field deployments about how to design the platforms on which instruments are deployed. First, we show how monitoring platforms have been affected by turbidity currents including instability, displacement, tumbling and damage. Second, we relate these issues to specifics of the platform design, such as exposure of large surface area instruments within a flow and inadequate anchoring or seafloor support. Third, we provide recommended improvements to improve design by simplifying mooring configurations, minimising surface area, and enhancing seafloor stability. Finally we highlight novel multi-point moorings that avoid interaction between the instruments and the flow, and flow-resilient seafloor platforms with innovative engineering design features, such as ejectable feet and ballast. Our experience will provide guidance for future deployments, so that more detailed insights can be provided into turbidity current behaviour, and in a wider range of settings.

Publication Year 2020
Title Lessons learned from monitoring of turbidity currents and guidance for future platform designs
DOI 10.1144/SP500-2019-173
Authors Michael Clare, D. Gwyn Lintern, Kurt J. Rosenberger, John Hughes Clarke, Charles K. Paull, Roberto Gwiazda, Matthieu J.B. Cartigny, Peter J. Talling, Daniel Perara, Jingping Xu, Daniel Parsons, Ricardo Silva Jacinto, Ronan Apprioual
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Special Publications
Index ID 70209754
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center