Deep-sea robot, caught in underwater avalanche, yields new scientific insights

Exploring the deep sea, and especially submarine canyons, is a risky business. The floors of many submarine canyons are periodically scoured by fast-moving underwater avalanches known as “turbidity currents.” In 2013, one of MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) was literally swept away by a turbidity current. Fortunately, the vehicle survived, giving researchers their first close-up view of one of these enigmatic events. The resulting video and data suggest that conceptual models and even textbook descriptions of turbidity currents may need to be revised.