119. Huntec Deep-Tow System (1976)

Huntec Deep-Tow System

The deep-tow seismic reflection profiling system (called the Huntec Deep-Tow) was developed in the 1970s as a government-industry partnership between the Bedford Institute of Oceanography and Huntec’70 Limited. It filled the need for a method of precisely imaging the sediment layers up to 100 metres beneath the seafloor at a vertical resolution often better than 50 centimetres. Continuous development and innovation over the years has led to a high-resolution seabed imaging system that is still unmatched internationally.

In Canada’s marine territory, the upper 50–100 metres is the interval that accumulated sediment since the continental ice sheets last covered Canada and much of its continental shelves. These sediments provide the foundation for offshore petroleum platforms, pipelines, wind farms, and fiber-optic and electricity cables. They are also the sediments that may fail during earthquakes, producing submarine landslides and tsunamis.

The three-dimensional pictures of these sediments, which the Huntec Deep-Tow captures, provide a predictive explanation for how they are distributed at the seafloor. Also, these sediments provide an archive of how climate and oceanic environmental conditions have changed in the past, and this information is essential for predicting how conditions will change in the future.

Category: Equipment and Instrumentation

Decade: 1970s


Hutchins, R.W., McKeown, D.L., and King, L.H., 1976. A Deep Tow High Resolution Seismic System for Continental Shelf Mapping; Geoscience Canada, v. 3, no. 2, p. 95–100. https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/GC/article/view/1140/1489

Mosher, D.C. and Simpkin, P.G., 1999. Environmental Marine Geoscience 1. Status and Trends of Marine High-Resolution Seismic Reflection Profiling: Data Acquisition; Geoscience Canada, v. 26, no. 4, p. 174–188. https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/GC/article/view/4024/4538

McKeown, D.L., Simpkin, P.G., Fader, G.B.J., Parrott, D.R., and Mosher, D.C., 2014. The Huntec Deep-Tow Seismic system: a revolution in high resolution profiling; in Voyage of Discovery: Fifty years of Marine Research at Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography, (ed.) D.N. Nettleship, D.C. Gordon, C.F.M. Lewis, and M.P. Latremouille; Bedford Institute of Oceanography-Oceans Association, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, p. 337–341.

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