ROV tracking technology supplied by Sonardyne Inc. in Houston to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) provided spectacular performance during an expedition to study recently discovered deep sea hydrothermal vents in the Gulf of California.

Installed on MBARI’s Western Flyer research vessel, the Ranger 2 USBL system was used to track the position of the ROV Doc Ricketts as it dived down 12,500 feet (3,800 metres) to the seafloor and flew around the Pescadero Basin vent field, collecting video and samples for analysis. Despite the challenging conditions created by the vents spewing out super-heated seawater and suspended solids, the Ranger 2 provided three-metre accuracy at that depth and stability of positioning.


The MBARI research project to investigate the Pescadero Basin vent field included repeated dives in April 2015 by the ROV Doc Ricketts to accurately map the site and gather samples which have subsequently been shown to contain both carbonate minerals and hydrocarbons. During the missions, the positioning repeatability of the Ranger 2 was shown to be just a few metres, performance that enabled MBARI’s ROV pilots to save time by flying directly to points of interest.

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