Research and development

The BGS 3m vibrocorer rigged with the recently developed, autonomous, battery-operated system

The BGS 55m Rockdrill (RD2) being deployed by the custom-built LARS

The BGS marine engineers undertake development projects to advance scientific data acquisition offshore. Developments range from small modifications to off-the-shelf equipment to suit a specific project, to full scale design and development of new technologies.

Current projects

Battery-Operated Vibrocoring System

BGS have recently developed an autonomous, battery-operated vibrocoring system compatible with both the 3m and 6m vibrocorers, which can be used in water depths up to 6000m. Use of a battery-operated system negates the use of an umbilical cable to power the vibrocorer, which instead can be deployed using the vessel’s A-frame and winch. The autonomous battery system comprises six 48V 19Ah batteries connected in series to give a 288V power source, a microprocessor and real-time clock. Data from the sensors are recorded with a time-stamp, giving diagnostic information that can be downloaded once the system is returned to the deck. The vibrocorer is operated via a pre-set program, which is set up before deployment.

The new system not only allows vibrocoring in greater water depths, but because a separate winch and umbilical are not required, it can also be used on vessels where deck space is limited. The autonomous system was used for the first time in June 2014 on-board the R\V Belgica to acquire samples from 20 sites in the Dangeard and Explorer canyon heads, off the southwest of England in 430m water depth (MINIMOUND project).

55m Rockdrill (RD2)

The BGS 55m Rockdrill (RD2) is a remotely operated sampling system capable of coring up to 55m beneath the sea floor in water depths up to 4000m. RD2 can be operated via its own launch and recovery system (LARS) and can be outfitted with additional sensors such as down-hole logging tools and gas-flow meters, which have been designed by the BGS for assessing volumes of gas hydrate.

RD2 was used in 2013 to sample hydrate-entrained sediments in the Sea of Japan. The maximum coring depth achieved was 32m below sea floor and the system was operational for more than 50 hours on a single deployment.

The BGS system will be used in conjunction with the Bremen University (MARUM) MeBo sea-floor rockdrill on future International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) expeditions implemented by the ECORD Science Operator (ESO).

Gas-Flow Meters and Capping System

The patented BGS gas-cap system with flow loggers has been designed to monitor the flow of gas being released from gas hydrates as they disassociate. This allows calculations to be made of the volume of stored hydrate and so aid research determining how much hydrate is trapped in the sediments of continental margins around the world.

The system is used in conjunction with the 55m Rockdrill (RD2).

Down-hole Logging Tools

Information coming shortly.

Shallow-Water Sampling Platform

The BGS are developing a floating platform for use in shallow water area that will be used to acquire cores.

The system will be used to collect cores from Lake Windermere in the future.

More information coming shortly.

Corking System

For use with remotely operated rockdrills (RD2 and Mebo).

More information coming shortly.


For more information please contact enquiries