Oceanographic Tools: Alvin
Submergence Vehicle Alvin
WHOI operates the U.S. Navy-owned Deep Submergence Vehicle (DSV) Alvin as a national oceanographic facility. A typical eight-hour dive takes two scientists and a pilot as deep as 4,500 meters (14,764 feet). This high-tech mini submarine is 23-feet (7 meters) long.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
(WHOI) operates the US Navy-owned Deep Submergence Vehicle
(DSV) Alvin as a national oceanographic facility. A typical eight-hour
dive takes two scientists and a pilot as deep as 4,500 meters (14,764
feet), a depth capability that encompasses 86 percent of the seafloor.
working at maximum depth, it takes about two hours
for the sub to reach the seafloor and another two to
return to the surface. The four hours of working time
on the bottom are crammed with carefully planned photography,
sampling, and experiments conducted by the scientists
using three 12-inch-diameter viewports. Alvin can hover,
maneuver in rugged topography, or rest on the bottom.
Typically, three video and two 800-frame, 35-ram cameras are mounted on Alvins exterior
for either automatic or selective operation. Because there is no light in
the deep sea, the sub carries 12 lights to illuminate the bottom. Two hydraulic,
robotic arms manipulate sampling and experimental gear specially designed
to work with their hands.
A sample basket or sled mounted
on the front of the sub carries a variety of instruments
that includes sediment corers, temperature probes,
water samplers, and a biological sample pump. Scientists
using the sub can bring up to 1,000 pounds of their
Alvin is especially useful to such observational sciences as biology and geology,
but marine chemists, physicists, and engineers are also among its users. The
sub is probably most famous for locating a hydrogen bomb accidentally dropped
into the Mediterranean Sea in 1966 (two years after the sub's delivery to Woods
Hole), for its exploration of deep-sea hydrothermal vents discovered some two
decades ago, and for its survey of the sunken ocean liner Titanic.
|Alvin Dive Statistics
Depth per Dive
Time Submerged per Dive