RV Investigator

US-based Chevron and Australian Government research agency Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have collaborated to investigate unexplored deepwater regions in the Great Australian Bight using the marine research vessel, the RV Investigator.

The Australian marine research vessel RV Investigator was designed by RALion, a joint venture between Robert Allan and Alion Science and Technology.

Australian Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane said that the Great Australian Bight Deepwater Marine Programme is funded by Chevron and aims to determine the region’s geology and ecology.

Macfarlane said: "The RV Investigator is Australia’s sophisticated research vessel, which has already completed a number of voyages to gather data and research the marine environment."

To obtain knowledge of the geological history of the Ceduna Basin, marine geoscientists will collect core and rock samples over a four-week period.

The composition, abundance and distributions of species found in the region would be analysed by biologists.

"It will be one of the longest and deepest science surveys in Australian waters and utilise equipment such as autonomous underwater vehicles to map sampling areas up to 4,500m below the sea surface."

The programme is expected to provide a better understanding of the basin’s geology and petroleum prospectivity, as well as provide baseline data for environmental assessments.

A team of CSIRO scientists are set to conduct a marine survey in late October to undertake deepwater geological and habitat research.

CSIRO Energy Director Dr Peter Mayfield said: "It will be one of the longest and deepest science surveys in Australian waters and will utilise equipment such as autonomous underwater vehicles to map sampling areas up to 4,500m below the sea surface."

As part of the programme, samples from volcanic seamounts, sedimentary rock outcrops and hydrocarbon seeps will be collected to understand how the seafloor in the region formed millions of years ago.

CSIRO will lead the research programme by partnering with academic and government research agencies including Geoscience Australia and the University of Adelaide.


Image: The 94m RV Investigator is capable of mapping the sea floor at any depth. Photo: courtesy of CSIRO.