The Ocean Bottom Instrumentation Consortium

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The Ocean Bottom Instrumentation Consortium comprises three well established academic institutions: the Universities of Durham and Southampton and Imperial College, London. Established in 2002 as a collaboration between universities with long track records in marine geophysical research and seabed instrument development and use, the Ocean-Bottom Instrumentation Consortium (OBIC) aims to provide the academic community with access to multi-sensor, versatile seabed instruments to enable sub-surface geophysical imaging at high vertical and lateral resolution.

OBIC’s suite of seabed geophysical instrument platforms, now numbering more than 50, are mobilised from bespoke laboratory spaces located at the Department of Earth Sciences in University of Durham and the School of Ocean and Earth Science in University of Southampton (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton). These instruments are supported by dedicated engineering staff whose roles also include instrument development, sea-going technical support and the training of the equipment users, whether that be scientists or PhD students, while senior scientists with many years` experience in ocean-bottom instruments fulfil the management role. Since its inception OBIC has provided data acquisition services not only to support the research activities of its members, but also those of other UK and international academics, in addition to UK- and EU-based companies.

OBIC as a whole sits within university departments of high international standing, is central to many of the research themes and strategies therein, and is managed by personnel recognised as international experts in their field and with over 60 years of combined sea-going experience and wide-ranging research interests. OBIC also offers essential, and unique within the UK, infrastructure and technical support for geophysical research integral to the provision of the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC) scientific strategy in the form of its national Ocean-Bottom Instrumentation Facility.

At the forefront of equipment capability and provision, OBIC is also undertaking innovative sensoring of platforms to provide contemporaneous recording of multi-data types and hence minimisation of associated ship time. It also offers training to the next generation of geophysicists in instrumentation, experimental design (field acquisition), data analysis and modelling, and is complimentary to the SEIS-UK and Geophysical Equipment Pool (GEP) nodes of the NERC’s Geophysical Equipment Facility (GEF). For example, OBIC facilitates, amongst other things, offshore extensions of land-based recording (both controlled-source and passive seismic) which isessential for deep crust and upper mantle imaging.

The Consortium’s goal is to support marine geoscience by providing instrumentation and technical support to the research community, to industry and other organisations. OBIC are also interested in establishing research collaborations or commisioned research on behalf of others.

In summary the service we aim to deliver comprises:

1. Design, development and operation of a facility comprising modern and serviceable seabed geophysical instrument platforms suitable for application to a wide range of field-based data acquisition programmes within the earth sciences.

2. Advice and training in the planning and execution of marine geophysical experiments and the operation of the seabed instrumentation associated therewith.

3. Support tailored to suit science applications.

4. Equipment scheduling sufficiently flexible to support acquisition demands at short notice via air freight shipping or service agreements with equivalent other international providers.

5. De/mobilisation and shipping of equipment to/from ports of call, coupled with professional technical support for equipment operation at sea.

6. Training of users in equipment use by their incorporation in deployment “teams” for the duration

of the acquisition at sea or pre-cruise training embedded in instrument trials cruises.

7. Long-term archiving of acquired data in raw and standard data formats.

8. Advice and training on the formatting, archiving, processing and modelling of the resulting data.

9. Access to data processing and modelling facilities.

10. Bespoke research and development of equipment to suit specific project specifications.

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