Deep seascapes of the Great Barrier Reef

Uncovering submarine canyons and landslides along the continental margin of the Great Barrier Reef.
Voyage No


04 Oct, 2019


14 Oct, 2019




Chief Scientist

Dr Robin Beaman


James Cook University

Voyage summary

Transit voyage from Brisbane to Darwin to relocate the vessel in preparation for IN2019_V06. During the transit, a number of research, education and outreach projects will be undertaken.

The Chief Scientist on this voyage will lead a project to map the seafloor along the Great Barrier Reef continental slope. Four main areas of interest will be mapped to produce 3D imagery of key landslides and canyons in the region. This data will be used to increase our understanding of how and when the Great Barrier Reef formed.

The voyage also includes the following research and outreach projects:

  • First measurements of nitrate isotopic composition in the Coral Sea (Dr Dirk Erler, Southern Cross University)
  • Spatial and temporal variability in the distribution and abundance of seabirds (Dr Eric Woehler, Birdlife Australia)
  • Using the Investigator radar as a moving reference for Australian radar network (Dr Alain Protat, BOM – shore-based)
  • Habitat mapping in Wessel Marine Park (NT) using multibeam sonar and deep towed camera (Dr Rachael Przeslawski, Geoscience Australia)
  • Trichodesmium (filamentous cyanobacteria) sampling (LCDR Matthew Hawker, Royal Australian Navy)
  • AIR-BOX integration and calibration for upcoming voyage IN2019_V06 (Dr Robyn Schofield, University of Melbourne)
  • Deployment of two BGC-Argo floats (Prof Tom Trull, CSIRO – shore-based)
  • CSIRO Educator on Board Program (Dr Ben Arthur, CSIRO – shore-based)

The science team on this voyage includes 34 participants from 16 institutions, including a journalist from ABC News in Darwin and two Australian school teachers under the CSIRO Educator on Board Program.

Voyage outcomes

This research conducted on this voyage contributes to a UNESCO requirement that Australia take action to preserve the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) as a world heritage site. This was achieved by acquiring the most recent and multidisciplinary data available. GBR data is a valuable resource for increasing understanding of a globally significant component of Australia’s marine environment.

During the voyage, two Australian school teachers under the CSIRO Educator on Board Program were able use their experiences to deliver outreach experiences and create science curriculum for their own classrooms. An onboard journalist from ABC News in Darwin played an integral role in communicating some of these findings to the Australian public.

Two BGC-Argo floats were deployed during the voyage and projects gathered data on nitrate isotopic composition in the Coral Sea and communities of Trichodesmium (filamentous cyanobacteria) along the voyage track. A collaborative project between Geoscience Australia, Parks Australia and the Traditional Owners of sea country in the Wessel Marine Park (NT) area led to an extensive program of habitat mapping using multibeam sonar in this marine park, supplemented by deep-towed camera transects.