Environmental Monitoring Technologies for Marine Energy

Marine Sciences Laboratory


The Triton initiative is based at PNNL’s Marine Sciences Laboratory (MSL) located at the mouth of Sequim Bay on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Sequim Bay links a small, relatively undisturbed watershed to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the body of water separating the U.S. and Canada and leading to the Pacific Ocean. MSL is DOE’s only marine research laboratory.


PNNL has a variety of vessels, facilities, equipment, and expertise to enable research, provide a platform for development of instrumentation and data collection, and support software design and data analysis and the evaluation of potential impacts to marine systems.


MSL’s location on the water provides a myriad of research benefits, such as:


  • Direct studies of environmental impacts on marine species and habitats
  • Use of flowing seawater in controlled laboratory settings
  • Testing of innovative marine sensors in natural settings
  • Providing multiple sites for deployment of MRE devices in various energetic settings

Click here for more on MSL.


Resources at MSL that support Triton include the following:

  • Research pier and floating dock with integral power and data connections  
  • A scientific dive team
  • Wet and dry laboratory spaces that support a multitude of marine  research studies
  • An advanced on-site wastewater treatment system and Washington Department of Ecology permitted discharge
  • Large outdoor experimental tanks
  • Availability of flowing seawater and freshwater at any temperature or salinity
  • Electronics labs for sensor and platform development
  • Mobile office trailer configured with electrical outlets, lighting, Wi-Fi, HVAC, and desk space
  • Research vessels
    • RV Strait Science—28-foot research vessel with A-frame and davit
    • RV Desdemona—high performance 33-foot research vessel with davit
    • A 23-foot SAFE boat
    • MSL can lease larger vessels as needed and currently has a standing contract with the University of Washington-Applied Physics Laboratory for hiring their 58-ft research vessel, the R/V Jack Robertson
The Dive Team

We have an experienced scientific dive team that supports a wide variety of research projects in underwater environments. The divers’ experience includes:

  • Habitat and species assessment and data collection
  • Underwater sampling
  • Equipment deployment
  • Underwater video and photography


The team uses advanced equipment including standard SCUBA, closed-circuit rebreathers, a variety of underwater scientific and video/photographic equipment, and full-face masks that allow underwater communication between divers and shore-side or vessel personnel. The team works under the auspices of a Diving Control Board and can perform both scientific and light commercial dives; the latter is for installing, maintaining, and retrieving scientific equipment.

Permitted Sites

MSL has multiple permitted sites for coastal research and instrument deployment. These sites include Sequim Bay and the Sequim Bay channel. These sites represent diverse environments ranging from a quiet, low energy environment at Sequim Bay and increased exposure to currents in the Sequim Bay channel. Preliminary research began in Sequim Bay, but with a growing need to test equipment and perform research in different marine environments, the lab hopes to expand sites to higher energy wave environments. 

Environmental Conditions in Sequim Bay
  • Water depths up to 12 m in channel
  • Water depths up to 32 m in bay
  • Peak current speeds up to 2 m/s

Follow the links to download the reports for bathymetric data and the distribution of currents through the channel (measured by a vessel mounted acoustic Doppler current profiler).


Scientists at PNNL have expertise in marine technology/engineering, biotechnology, biogeochemistry, ecosystems science, toxicology, and earth systems modeling. 


Read more on expertise.