It’s not difficult to appreciate the beauty, vastness, and intrigue of the Great Lakes from the surface. But it takes a subsurface dive to truly begin to unravel the mysteries they hold. With the Great Lakes Research Center’s fleet of subsurface vehicles, researchers can do so much more than simply scratch the surface; they dive 1,000 feet to the bottom of the lakes, explore underwater topography, and even map subsurface features in three dimensions.
The GLRC’s subsurface fleet consists of four vehicles—each with its own specialties and cutting-edge technologies.
Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs)
ROVs let researchers peek below the surface—often many hundreds of feet—without ever leaving the shore or their research vessel. ROVs are controlled by an operator who dictates the vehicle’s movements and functions remotely.
The Center maintains and operates two Outland 1000 ROVs. These vehicles can dive to depths of more than 1,000 feet. Both are fully equipped with a collection of sampling tools, including:
- Scanning imaging sonar
- One-function articulated arm for selective sampling
- Two color (and one black-and-white) low-light video cameras
- Flood lights
The Outland 1000 ROVs are designed for light-to-medium work tasks and selective sampling. One vehicle, with 1,000 feet of tether, is designated for use on the RV Agassiz while the other is available for remote applications and carries a 500-foot retractable cable reel. An additional 1,000-foot cable is also available for very deep dives.
The GLRC also offers a light-duty VideoRay ROV, capable of acquiring underwater video with lighting at up to 250 feet of depth. This technology gives researchers an underwater eye—perfect for exploring the depths of the Keweenaw Waterway or deeper areas of the Great Lakes.
Fully Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)
AUVs offer the ability to survey, explore, and collect data without requiring input from an operator. By controlling their movement themselves, AUVs give researchers a new way to study the Great Lakes—with no need for human control.
The IVER 3 is truly a first-of-its-kind AUV, proudly displaying serial number 001 to confirm it. With this brand-new equipment, GLRC researchers have access to a host of new technologies, including:
- High-resolution, forward-looking video/still digital camera
- LED lighting
- EdgeTech 2505 digital side scan and mapping sonar
- Acoustic Doppler current profiler and velocity log
The IVER 3’s sonar system uses the full range of EdgeTech side-scan sonar frequencies (100–1,600 kHz), making it the most versatile sonar imaging system available. The ultra-high-resolution EdgeTech sonar provides unrivaled imaging resolution and full three-dimensional mapping capabilities.
IVER 3’s more-than-300-foot-depth diving capabilities coupled with its 12 hours of operating time provides unsurpassed underwater survey capabilities to Center researchers—and a winning combination for the Great Lakes.