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Advances in Earth Science  2019, Vol. 34 Issue (11): 1111-1119    DOI: 10.11867/j.issn.1001-8166.2019.11.1111
Current Status of Scientific Deep-diving Investigations in Submarine Canyons
Guangfa Zhong1,2()
1. State Key Laboratory of Marine Geology, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China
2. Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Zhuhai), Guangdong Zhuhai 519080, China
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Submarine canyons represent one of the most important geomorphologic features in continental margins, act as one of the most important conduits of seafloor sediment transporting from shallow waters into the deep sea, and are also biodiversity hotspots. Submarine-canyon investigations are therefore significant for seafloor scientific research, submarine mineral and resource exploitation, and the construction and safety operation of submarine infrastructures. Deep-sea diving by manned submersibles and robot submersibles represented by Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) provides an important approach to the investigation of modern submarine canyons. The biggest advantage of manned submersibles is that they can bring scientists to the deep sea for in-place observations and precise sampling, while the robot deep-sea diving has the advantages of low cost, high efficiency, no personnel safety concerns, and the ability to reach the extreme sea areas that are difficult for humans to reach. Deep-sea diving has found broad applications in the geo-scientific research of submarine canyons. These studies cover seafloor topography and geomorphology, seafloor sediments, erosional and depositional bedforms, mass transport processes and flow dynamics, cold springs, cold-water corals and other biological habitats, as well as seafloor biological erosion. The research experience and scientific findings in scientific diving investigation of submarine canyons accumulated by the developed countries in Europe and the United States over the past 70 years are of great reference and significance to the emerging scientific deep-sea diving in China.

Key words:  Submarine canyons      Scientific diving      Seafloor geomorphology      Sedimentary processes      Biological habitats.     
Received:  10 October 2019      Published:  31 December 2019
ZTFLH:  P714+.7  
Fund: Projects supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China “Turbidites and their tectonic implications in the abyssal plain of the South China Sea”(41676029);“Gravity-current deposits in the northern continental-ocean transition of the South China Sea”(41876049)
About author:  Zhong Guangfa (1964-), male, Linli County, Hu'nan Province, Professor. Research areas include geophysical data interpretation and deep-sea sedimentology.
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Guangfa Zhong

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Guangfa Zhong. Current Status of Scientific Deep-diving Investigations in Submarine Canyons. Advances in Earth Science, 2019, 34(11): 1111-1119.

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潜器类型 主要技术特点 优势 不足之处
载人潜器 潜器由潜航员操控,可视科学家需要进行考察和取样等作业 载人实地考察;精准取样 需要母船支持;水下作业时间较短;难以到达恶劣海底环境
ROV 潜器通过脐带缆与母船连接,其运行完全由母船控制;依靠光缆与母船进行实时通信 可代替载人潜器完成海底调查和取样等作业;可以达到特殊和复杂地形海域;水下工作时间较长;安全、经济、高效 需要母船支持;脐带缆限制了潜器的活动范围
AUV 潜器完全根据预设指令独自运行;靠声学方法与母船进行通信;适合进行长距离测量作业 具备近底多波束等高精度地形地貌探测功能;无需母船支持,可独自进行较长距离的测量作业;可以到达特殊和复杂地形海域;水下工作时间较长;安全、经济、高效 缺乏来自母船的电力供应,限制了潜器活动的持久性;与母船无光缆连接,通讯完全依赖声学方法
Table 1  The technical characteristics and advantages of manned submersibles and robot submersibles
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