RV Sonne bathymetry survey across the Coral Sea
June 18, 2011

The 97 metre long RV Sonne is based out of Bremen, Germany but roams the world’s oceans doing mainly geoscience research. The vessel has one of the best deep-water multibeam mapping systems in the world, a Kongsberg Simrad EM120. From 2-18 June 2011, the Sonne conducted a multibeam survey from the Louisville Ridge, north of New Zealand, across the Coral Sea to Townsville, and then to Papua New Guinea.

sonne_marion14 km wide swath of the Marion Plateau seafloor

We were greatly assisted by the Chief scientists and multibeam technicians for each of the two survey legs, which passed over volcanic seafloor in the North Norfolk Basin west of the Kermadec Trench, over the Norfolk Ridge then into the New Caledonia Basin and Lord Howe Rise, before passing over the rarely-visited Capel Bank and south of Wreck Reef in the Coral Sea.

The vessel then sailed over the North Marion Plateau, discovering new submarine canyons draining this vast platform adjoining the Great Barrier Reef, before dropping back into the Townsville and Queensland Troughs. Following a crew change over in Townsville 11-15 June 2011, the vessel sailed for PNG, heading north from the Great Barrier Reef shelf edge, and then north-east across the Queensland Plateau and Coral Sea Basin before arriving in PNG waters.

The survey continued northwards across the Solomon Sea Basin and the 8000 metre deep New Britain Trench before arriving at the island of New Britain where the survey finished. The bathymetry (depth) data have now been cleaned of noise and archived with Geoscience Australia and the Australian Hydrographic Service.

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