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Real-Time Sediment Plume Modeling in the Southern California Bight

Kulkarni, C.S., P.J. Haley, Jr., P.F.J. Lermusiaux, A. Dutt, A. Gupta, C. Mirabito, D.N. Subramani, S. Jana, W.H. Ali, T. Peacock, C.M. Royo, A. Rzeznik, and R. Supekar, 2018. Real-Time Sediment Plume Modeling in the Southern California Bight. In: Oceans '18 MTS/IEEE Charleston, 22-25 October 2018. doi:10.1109/oceans.2018.8653642

With advances in engineering and technology, mining the deep sea for untapped rare metal resources from the bottom of the ocean has recently become economically viable. However, extracting these metal ores from the seabed creates plumes of fine particles that are deposited at various depths within the ocean, and these may be extremely harmful to the marine ecosystems and its components. Thus, for sustainable management, it is of utmost importance to carefully monitor and predict the impact of such harmful activities including plume dispersion on the marine environment. To forecast the plume dispersion in real-time, data-driven ocean modeling has to be coupled with accurate, efficient, and rigorous sediment plume transport computations. The goal of the present paper is to demonstrate the real-time applications of our coupled 3D-and-time data-driven ocean modeling and plume transport forecasting system. Here, the region of focus is the southern California bight, where the PLUMEX 2018 deep sea mining real-time sea experiment was recently conducted (23 Feb – 5 Mar, 2018). Specifically, we demonstrate the improved capabilities of the multiscale MSEAS primitive equation ocean modeling system to capture the complex oceanic phenomenon in the region of interest, the application of the novel method of composition to efficiently and accurately compute the transport of sediment plumes in 3D+1 domains, and the portability of our software and prediction system to different operational regions and its potential in estimating the environmental impacts of deep sea mining activities, ultimately aiding sustainable management and science-based regulations.