Marine Seismic Data


R/V Marcus G. Langseth

The R/V Langseth is a US academic research vessel specially designed to acquire marine seismic data. It is owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. This vessel is primarily used by academic scientists at universities, research institutes and labs across the nation to study Earth's interior using sound waves.

Fundamentals on marine seismic data

Marine seismic methods involve using sound waves to create pictures of structures beneath the seafloor.  Marine seismic data collected during a survey provide a window into geology below the seafloor, which is otherwise inaccessible to scientists, including sedimentary layering, magma chambers, faults and more.  Imaging these structures provides unique information that can be used to understand fundamental earth processes as well as to evaluate geohazards from earthquakes, submarine landslides and tsunamis.

This project would involve generating sound waves with a tuned sound source array towed by the ship, which would be recorded on a 15-km-long cable filled with pressure sensors (a seismic streamer), which would also be towed from the ship, and ocean bottom seismometers deployed on the seafloor.

Environmental considerations and permitting

As earth and environmental researchers dedicated to preserving our natural environment, we follow strict procedures to minimize any potential disruption by seismic activities to protected species. During seismic operations on board the R/V Langseth, protected-species observers will be on board listening and watching for marine life at all times. If marine mammals or other protected species come within a designated radius of the ship, its sound sources would be shut down. The timing and design of the program has been planned to minimize impact on marine life.

The R/V Langseth is operated in accordance with U.S. and international laws and regulations. All necessary federal and state permits, authorizations, and approvals are being (or have been) sought for the proposed research activities, including those pursuant to the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act. Several of these regulatory processes have included opportunities for the public to provide comment on the proposed research activities.

For more information, contact the principal investigators

Links to resources on the science of marine acoustics:

Office of Marine Operations, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

R/V Marcus G. Langseth

What We Learn From Sound Waves

Sound in the Sea website

Marine Mammal Protection Guidelines

Marine Mammal Protection Procedures