Four Marine Energy Research Projects Funded

Posted on September 27th, in Bay of Fundy, Offshore Energy, Tidal Energy.

The OERA has recently funded four (4) marine energy research projects under their Open Call Program.  OERA awards a maximum of $20,000 on its various Open Call Projects, where such funds are leveraged with financial support from others to cover the total project costs.  The following are the most recent winners:

“Analysis framework for long-term and cumulative effects monitoring”

Lead Proponent:  Acadia University –  Dr. Trevor Avery

The project aims to provide a framework under which turbine effects on specific marine species populations, at various deployment scales, can be tested. This framework will provide the basis for future assessment of far-field and cumulative environmental effects, which will become increasingly important as more turbines are deployed.

An analysis framework will be developed that describes how to use past, current and future data available from other parties can be used to determine population level effects. As well, the framework will allow simulations to uncover areas where more data is/will be necessary, and will characterize the uncertainty (variability) in current monitoring approaches.

Through the integration of current and forthcoming data on species-specific effects, historical data, and population dynamics (how species populations change over time), better estimates of population-level effects can be obtained using more sophisticated analyses.

In this project, Integrated Population Models (IPM) will be used to construct an analysis framework first for lobster, which can later be applied as a framework for all fish species. IPMs essentially connect many simpler relationships (e.g. relative abundance, mortality rates) together to estimate the ‘unknown’ underlying processes through imperfect observation. All sampling methods are imperfect, therefore, IPMs offer the best solution to characterize how populations may change over time when various ecosystem pressures are encountered.  The research outcomes will have implications to current environmental effects monitoring programs for tidal energy development.

“Application of (low cost) drifters with suspended hydrophone arrays to assess harbor porpoise use of the water column and spatial overlap with MRE devices in the Minas Passage”

Lead Proponents:  Acadia University –  Drs. Anna Redden & Brian Sanderson

The project goal is to assess the activity and depth distribution of harbour porpoises utilizing the Minas Passage and Minas Channel, using new low-cost drifter technology.  The study comprises three primary objectives.  The first objective is to assess porpoise activity through the analysis of recently collected field data from a drifter fitted with two synced hydrophones.  Second, the researchers will conduct a two-day field test using a drifting vertical array of four synchronized hydrophones, equipped with GPS, to quantify how porpoises utilize the water column in Minas Passage.  As part of the field testing phase, there will be an attending boat with marine mammal observers (MMO’s) who will validate porpoise detections.  The third objective is to assess the utility and practicality of drifters as a viable monitoring platform at time scales of weeks to months for future environmental effects monitoring (EEM) use.

The measurements collected from this study will provide data on the vertical distribution of porpoises in relation to a bottom moored turbine as well as where and when porpoises are active.  Such information will be helpful for assessing risk of encounter with in-stream turbines.

“Going with the Flow II: Using Drifters to Address Uncertainties in the Spatial Variation of Tidal Flows”

Lead Proponent: Luna Ocean Consulting Ltd. (LOCL) – Mr. Greg Trowse

Drifters are one of the oldest, simplest, and most reliable methods for measuring ocean currents.  Drifters also provide a simple, low risk platform from which to gather acoustic information along flow streamlines or ‘drift tracks’.

This project will build upon previous drifter research, with the objective to reduce uncertainty in the spatial variation in flow speeds (including turbulence) within the Minas Passage (with focus on the FORCE site), Grand Passage, and Petit Passage. The project will use:

  1. An ADCP drifter to evaluate flow characteristics along several drift tracks, including the vertical structure of velocity, turbulent dissipation rates, and surface vorticity; and
  2. Multiple surface flow drifters to map the flow-fields throughout the flood-ebb tidal cycle.

The current standard practice for tidal energy site assessment focuses on deployment of bottom mounted ADCPs and use of vessel mounted ADCPs. Data collection using multiple drifters allows flow speeds to be measured concurrently at several locations distributed around an area of interest. Use of the ADCP drifter will include deployments upstream of a prominent bathymetric feature (e.g. a ridge) and/or a turbine, with recovery downstream of the feature. Multiple drifts, with trajectories both centered on and to the side of the feature, will be undertaken.

The project outcomes consist of site characterization information useful for advancing research and micro-siting tidal turbines for commercial developments.  The information will be used by Dalhousie University’s Dr. Alex Hay to advance research on turbulence in high-energy tidal environments, and Acadia University’s Dr. Richard Karsten for further calibration and validation of the FVCOM numerical model. The surface flow measurements will be combined with existing data, and with new drift data supplied from other studies to update images of surface flow-fields that will be available on-line with public access after project completion.  A preliminary example for Grand Passage, Nova Scotia is available at:

“Attenuation of Petroleum Generation Characteristics by the Sulfurization of Organic Matter in Westphaflan Carboniferous Lacustrine Source Rocks (A Geochemical Study of Potential Marine Incursions)”

Lead Proponent:  Saint Mary’s University – Dr. Todd Ventura

Dr. Ventura is developing a set of geochemical diagnostic tools that can be applied to potential source rocks of differing ages throughout the Maritimes Basin. These tools will help create a more accurate interpretation of the evolution of the Maritimes Basin by constraining when and to what extent marine conditions may have influenced the deposition, preservation, and maturation of organic matter that contributes to the production of oil and gas.

This study marks an initial step in the development of novel geochemical techniques to 1) detect marine influences in pre-rift Paleozoic source rocks and to 2) evaluate the degree that sulfurization of organic matter (SOM) has affected the preservation and hydrocarbon generation characteristics of organic matter in these rocks.

SOM is a process that begins soon after burial and leads to the selective preservation of organic matter and thus affects the quality and quantity of organic matter preserved in marine source rocks. SOM also leads to petroleum generation at shallower burial depths. The influence of SOM on Nova Scotian source rocks has yet to be examined.

Outcomes: This study will lead to improved constraints on tectonic models of basin evolution as well as improved understanding of organic matter preservation and maturation mechanisms of source rocks for oil and gas generation models.

Determining the effect SOM on the preservation and quality of organic matter is an important component of any source rock prospectively analysis. Resolving its impact on younger potential source rocks will enable predictions of organic matter inputs, improve maturity controls for modeling hydrocarbon expulsion histories, and will help to refine mechanisms controlling the quality (hydrogen/carbon ratio) of expulsed hydrocarbons. This study provides the necessary first steps to better characterize these attributes so that future work can routinely determine their influence in assessing potentially new source rocks from the Scotian Margin.

Once all the data is compiled, the materials will be provided to the Geoscience Research Center at the CNSOPB and the results will be written-up as a peer-reviewed journal article and/or an open file report. The results of this study will likewise be presented at one or more regional or national conferences.