Testing the Potential of Wave Gliders for Ocean Exploration and Seafloor Geodesy in SE Asia

We are developing geophysical marine robots to probe the deformation of the seafloor. The end goal is to extend geodetic measurements offshore to better understand earthquakes, tectonic processes and tsunami hazards.

Preparing the wavegliderWaveglider softwareLaunching the waveglider

There is a seismic gap on the Sunda megathrust at the latitude of the Mentawai Islands, exposing the area, including the large city of Padang, to seismic and tsunami hazards. Our existing land based network (the SuGAr) is extensive here, but lacks resolution near the trench (and other offshore areas) preventing us from understanding the mechanism of tsunami generation and other aspects of megathrust dynamics. Seafloor geodesy can fill the observation gap. To accomplish this and also reduce the cost of seafloor geodesy, we will use autonomous marine robots (Wave Gliders). Seafloor geodesy with AUV/ROV is still in its infancy, so we are developing new hardware and software capacity accounting for the unique constraints of autonomous marine robots. Our goal is initially to test the potential of a single Wave Glider with a single station for earthquake and tsunami hazard monitoring.


Illustration of waveglider motion


Diagram of waveglider observations and acoustic stations in a subduction zone