Press Release: OFG supports successful project combining AUV and USV mothership to survey the ocean’s depths

  OFG AUV   Chercheur   launching from AUV bay of mothership USV   Maxlimer   (Photo: Lew Abramson)

OFG AUV Chercheur launching from AUV bay of mothership USV Maxlimer (Photo: Lew Abramson)

Ocean Floor Geophysics Inc. (OFG) works with the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE GEBCO-NF Alumni Team to advance the state of the art in autonomous seafloor survey through operations support, expertise, and OFG’s HUGIN Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Chercheur.

Burnaby, BC, Canada – January 25, 2018

The GEBCO-NF Alumni Team has completed the Technology Readiness Tests of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE using a combined Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) system.  The goal of the XPRIZE challenge is to advance ocean technologies for rapid, unmanned and high-resolution ocean exploration and discovery.

This is a world first using the Hugin AUV and a USV mothership for launch, synchronized autonomous AUV survey operations, and recovery of the AUV back in to the USV. The project demonstrated that combined AUV and USV systems are a viable option for future offshore survey and inspection projects. 

The Team chose to work together with OFG to integrate the HUGIN AUV Chercheur, in to the system. Chercheur is an industry-leading survey and pipeline inspection AUV equipped with a multibeam, camera, sub-bottom profiler, OFG Self Compensating Magnetometer (SCM), water chemistry sensors, and the HISAS 1032, a deep-water interferometric synthetic aperture sonar, that was used to collect bathymetric and imagery data for this project.

The USV SEA-KIT Maxlimer was designed by Hushcraft Ltd to act as a surface support vessel for the AUV, including the capacity to launch and recover the AUV and to provide subsea communications and positioning. SEA-KIT is a rugged, impact-safe and self-righting USV that can carry a deployable and retrievable payload of up to 2.5 tons. It has passive motion damping, a stable single-compartment flooding system and a self-deploying and stowing sea anchor to ease and ensure safe operations. The autonomous capabilities of the USV were provided by the K-Mate controller developed by Kongsberg Maritime and the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI).

In addition to the development of the AUV and USV systems used for data acquisition, the Team developed a complete data processing workflow using Teledyne CARIS and ESRI software allowing all the data products to be delivered within 24 hours. The workflow developed was highly automated from data download to delivery of a complete ArcGIS database of the entire survey area, including HiSAS imagery at 4 cm resolution, multibeam bathymetry, interferometric bathymetry and areas of interest reprocessed HiSAS imagery at 2 cm resolution. 

Autonomous AUV seafloor survey, with an AUV launch and recovery (human-in-the-loop), with the USV autonomously tracking the AUV for a complete survey mission while being monitored from a remote shore station, were demonstrated to be a viable option for future offshore survey and inspection projects.  The technology, processes and procedures developed for this project are a big step towards larger scale implementation of these concepts.


[Full version of the video can be viewed at OFG supports successful project combining AUV and USV mothership - Full Version


To learn more about OFG’s AUV capabilities, or to discuss other marine electromagnetic (EM), magnetic and seafloor mineral exploration services, contact Matthew Kowalczyk at +1-778-654-7781 or by email at or visit the website at

Ocean Floor Geophysics Inc. (OFG) is a marine geophysics company that provides data acquisition and analysis services that were previously unavailable by combining specialised expertise in subsea operations, sensor design and sensor integration with geophysical technologies beyond the scope of traditional marine geophysical surveys. These include the OFG AUV integrated Cathodic Protection (iCP) system, marine magnetics, EM, and CSEM/MT, deployed by ROV, AUV and deep tow systems. OFG is an advanced user of powerful 2D and 3D EM and magnetic forward modelling and inversion software. This range of technologies and experience allows OFG to support clients from survey design through to data integration and analysis. OFG will provide you with a new perspective on survey and inspection and deliver the data you need to make informed decisions for your projects. 

Unlocking the power of AUVs and USVs to map the world's oceans: Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE

 Photo: Alex DeCiccio

Photo: Alex DeCiccio

The Ocean Floor Geophysics (OFG) AUV team is proud to be part of a world first with the GEBCO-NF Alumni Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE team: autonomous seafloor survey with our world class Hugin survey and pipeline inspection AUV "Chercheur". AUV Chercheur was launched from the Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) Sea-Kit, performed a high resolution seafloor survey with USBL positioning and communications to the USV, and was recovered by the USV.  This accomplishment by the GEBCO-NF Alumni team represents a huge stride forward autonomous mapping of the ocean's depths, supported by experts, resources, and equipment from the Nippon Foundation, GEBCO-NF Alumni, Ocean Floor Geophysics, Hushcraft, Kongsberg Maritime, and Teledyne Caris.

Resource Links:

Seafloor Mapping Technologies for Deep Sea Mining - Asia Pacific Deep Sea Mining, Singapore, Nov. 21-22

OFG has been actively involved in seafloor minerals exploration since the formation of the company to support SMS exploration with our patented electromagnetic OFG EM Mk III system. Continuous involvement in seafloor minerals projects all around the world, with a particular focus on SMS deposits, has resulted in the application and development of a wide range of mapping technologies by OFG and our partners. The Asia Pacific Deep Sea Mining Summit in Singapore on November 21 and 22 offers a perfect venue to share some of these advances in mapping techniques ranging from 3D vertical cable seismic to magnetics to a new AUV electromagnetic system. The CEO of OFG, Matthew Kowalczyk, Eng., will be presenting on day 2 of the conference during the Seafloor Mapping Technologies for Deep Sea Mining session.  

OFG at the MTS Puget Sound Section Technology Summit

November 6th, 2017 - Marine Technology Summit, University of Washington South Campus Center

OFG will be presenting the latest AUV electromagnetic system for the efficient mapping of seafloor minerals exploration. The economic and operational advantages of the AUV-borne controlled source electromagnetic (CSEM) system that has been developed and deployed over the last two years will be discussed. Results of the initial tests and development work along with the 3D earth model created from AUV data acquired during the AUV CSEM mapping campaign will also be presented.

OFG to present advances in AUV electromagnetic sensors for seafloor mineral exploration at UMC in Berlin

OFG CEO Matthew Kowalczyk, will be presenting: Controlled source electromagnetic mapping of massive sulfide deposits with an AUV

OFG in collaboration with Fukada Salvage and Marine Co. Ltd. and the Scripps EM Laboratory has developed and demonstrated an AUV Controlled Source Electromagnetic (AUV-CSEM) system for the mapping of seafloor massive sulfides.  The system can equally be deployed in the mapping of resistive subsurface bodies such as gas hydrates.  The economic and operational advantages that the AUV CSEM system presents through the concurrent acquisition of magnetic, CSEM, water chemistry, SBP, SSS and MBES data from a single AUV in a single pass are clear.  Results of the initial tests and development work along with the 3D earth model created from AUV data acquired during the  AUV CSEM mapping campaign following the test program will be presented 

Looking forward to seeing you there. UMC Sept 24 – 29, Berlin, Germany.

Dr. Karen Weitemeyer joins the OFG geophysics team - further strengthens electromagnetic expertise in the group


Dr. Karen Weitemeyer is an internationally recognized expert in marine electromagnetic (EM) methods applied to mapping marine gas hydrate deposits.  She has over 10 years world-wide experience in the collection, processing, and modelling of marine EM data.  She most recently obtained her Professional Geoscientist designation while working for Advisian, WorleyParsons in Calgary, Alberta on a variety of land-based near surface geophysics projects such as contaminate transport and bedrock mapping, reviewing UXO remediation documents, and cross well ERT modelling.  Prior to this Karen held a Lectureship in Marine Electromagnetics at the University of Southampton and is currently a visiting researcher.  Karen has written and co-authored several scientific papers on marine EM methods applied to mapping gas hydrates. Karen received her PhD in 2008 from the University of California, San Diego while studying at the Marine EM Lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  Karen obtained her BSc (Hon) Geophysics in 2003 from the University of British Columbia and is pleased to be returning to British Columbia.

University of Tasmania AUV Delivered with OFG Magnetometer

The OFG Self-Compensating Magnetometer (SCm) system delivered with the new ISE Explorer AUV "nupiri muka" will help researchers understand more about the geology of Antartica and the Southern Ocean. (

The SCM system compensates for the the internal magnetic field of the AUV so that the ambient magnetic field is recorded which is typically overwhelmed by the internal magnetic field of the AUV. (



Dr. Brian Claus adds to OFG AUV expertise

OFG is happy to welcome Dr. Brian Claus to the OFG team.  His expertise in AUV systems complements OFG's significant AUV capabilities. 

Dr. Brian Claus has most recently been a post-doctoral scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) where he investigated cooperative acoustic navigation methods using IVER autonomous underwater vehicles with low grade odometry. Also at WHOI, Dr. Claus validated a magnetic sensing methodology for use on an autonomous underwater glider and investigated methods for extending the operational region of long duration underwater platforms to below 1000 meters. His Doctoral work at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, was on energy efficient navigational methods for long range underwater vehicles in surface denied regions for which he received his Ph.D in 2015.  He has worked extensively with underwater gliders, including the design of an auxiliary glider propulsion system which is often called a Hybrid Glider which was the subject of his Masters Thesis. Dr. Claus completed his Masters degree in Engineering from Memorial University in 2010 and an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Victoria in 2008.

OFG presenting at the Underwater Intervention 2017 conference

Donizeti Carneiro, PhD., Business Development Manager will be presenting a paper "Geophysical Methods from Exploration for Pipeline Inspection" at the Underwater Intervention 2017 conference in New Orleans (February 21 - 23, Morial Convention Center Hall B1, New Orleans, LA, USA). Learn how OFG electromagnetic technologies developed and deployed by AUV can be applied for the non-contact inspection of subsea pipelines. Applications in cathodic protection (CP) inspection as well as the detection of invisible flaws such as cracking, fractures, erosion and corrosion through the use of technologies proven in the arena of subsea minerals exploration will be discussed. 

Oceanology International North America 2017: OFG to present Self-Compensating Magnetometer (SCM) results from Remus 600 AUV

The Self-Compensating Magnetometer (SCM) System – Test Results from a Remus 600 AUV Survey in Yellowstone Lake

Panel Session: Unmanned Vehicles and Vessels - Innovations in Autonomy

Location: Conference Room 26B

Date and Time: Wednesday Feb 15th from 16:00 - 17:30

In 2016, Ocean Floor Geophysics (OFG) released a new Self-Compensating Magnetometer (SCM) system to the subsea industry.  This magnetometer was designed specifically for use in autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and some remotely-operated underwater vehicles (ROVs).  Using data collected during a calibration maneuver, correction coefficients are calculated for the magnetization of the AUV itself, its attitude in the Earth’s magnetic field, and for variable electro-magnetic effects related to the power drawn by the vehicle’s propulsion and maneuvering system.  This compensation algorithm eliminates the need to tow the magnetometer or degauss the vehicle to collect useful magnetic data.

Collecting data with a magnetometer mounted inside or on an underwater vehicle enables the production of much higher resolution magnetic maps than those produced using a surface vessel.  Using the SCM, magnetic data can be collected concurrently with high resolution multibeam, side scan, and/or sub-bottom data enabling the interpretation of geology on a local scale instead of a regional one.

As part of product testing, OFG has deployed the SCM on vehicles by various AUV manufacturers. We discuss here the data from a magnetometer deployed on Remus 600 AUV doing a multibeam mapping project in Yellowstone Lake.  Magnetic data was collected over four dives and compensation was applied to the raw data using the SCM algorithm. Maps were generated and compared with historical magnetic data collected using airborne techniques.  The comparison shows that the data collected using the OFG SCM is consistent with the airborne results but provides significantly more detail, revealing features that were not visible in the airborne data.  These local features can provide useful and detailed geological data that compliments the precision bathymetry collected by the AUV.

OFG supplies Self-Compensating Magnetometer (SCM) system for NTNU research

An OFG SCM was deployed on the Hugin AUV used by NTNU in their summer 2016 MarMine seafloor massive sulphide (SMS) research project. We look forward to continued collaboration on subsea magnetic and electromagnetic systems in support of the NTNU MarMine project for seafloor minerals exploration and research. For further information on the NTNU MarMine project please visit their site For further information on the OFG SCM for AUVS and ROVs, please visit

OFG Expands AUV Capability

HiSAS-equipped survey and pipeline inspection Hugin AUV Chercheur added to OFG fleet

Burnaby, BC, Canada - October, 2016

Building on OFG’s strengths in deep water Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) operations and support services, OFG has invested in a 3000m-rated Hugin AUV. The AUV Chercheur is equipped with an unsurpassed sensor and software suite for extremely efficient inspection of pipelines and infrastructure, pipeline route studies, site geohazard surveys, environmental monitoring surveys, and other seafloor-based applications such as UXO, archeology, salvage, and minerals exploration. 

Chercheur is equipped with state of the art high resolution interferometric synthetic aperture sonar (HiSAS), the latest in technology multibeam echosounder EM2040, a sub-bottom profiler, a comprehensive environmental geochemical sensing suite, a high resolution still photography camera, and an OFG Self-Compensating Magnetometer (SCM) system. Chercheur is the most advanced subsea survey platform, and comes complete with all ancillary sensors to guarantee precision navigation and positioning.

OFG’s CTO Peter Kowalczyk commented, “When considering this investment, we felt that synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) is the technology by which other sonar imagery will be measured in the future and that it was a requirement for any new AUV purchase.  The incredible imagery produced by the HiSAS system confirms this.”

The combination of Chercheur’s technology, OFG’s experienced AUV operations team, and the expertise of our technology and commercial partners extends the possibility to unveil seafloor properties and characteristics to new levels of resolution and detection.      

Included in that extended reach, OFG offers with Chercheur its AUV services for very shallow water operations allowed by the advanced navigation and positioning systems, and the efficient coverage of large areas by the HiSAS system even in shallow water. Detailed camera surveys are also possible in water depths ranging from 10m to 3000m with the EM2040-aided acoustic tracking and following capabilities.

The incredible high resolution imagery produced by the HiSAS system gives offshore oil and gas companies the ability to build and maintain a precise GIS database of the positions and conditions of their seafloor assets, natural features, marine archeology inventories, UXOs and other features of interest such as plumes. Seafloor minerals exploration teams will also benefit greatly with regards to geological interpretation.

OFG looks forward to supporting our clients and commercial and technology partners with the deployment of this portable, self-contained AUV survey and inspection system around the world.

To learn more about OFG’s AUV survey and inspection capabilities or to discuss marine EM and magnetic services and technologies, please contact Matthew Kowalczyk (CEO) or Donizeti Carneiro (Business Development Manager) at +1-778-654-7781, by email at, or visit the website at

 Ocean Floor Geophysics Inc. (OFG) is a marine geophysics company that provides data acquisition and analysis services that were previously unavailable by combining specialised expertise in subsea operations, sensor design, and sensor integration with geophysical technologies beyond the scope of traditional marine geophysical surveys. These include marine magnetics, EM, and CSEM/MT deployed by ROV, AUV, and deep-tow systems. OFG is an advanced user of powerful 2D and 3D EM and magnetic forward modelling and inversion software. This range of technologies and experience allows OFG to support clients from survey design through to data integration and analysis. OFG will provide you with a new perspective on your data and the confidence to make informed decisions for your offshore exploration and development projects. 

UPDATED DATE AND VENUE - You are invited to join OFG at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro

UPDATED Venue: Departamento de Engenharia Eletrica, Sala L401-1*, PUC - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil   (*Sala Multimeios, Departamento de Engenharia Electrica - Ed. Cardeal Leme, Quarto Andar, PUC)

UPDATED Date: 9am, Wednesday October 26th, 2016

Applications for established deep sea geophysical methods used in mineral exploration for the subsea inspection of pipeline infrastructure

Peter Kowalczyk, Chief Technical Officer, Ocean Floor Geophysics Inc.

As subsea pipeline are placed in deeper and deeper waters and the installed infrastructure ages, the necessity to inspect these pipes efficiently is becoming urgent.    Present methods rely upon visual inspection using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and intervention using these same ROVs.  This is costly, and these costs are increasing as inspection requirements become more stringent and the depth of water that the pipelines sit in also increases.

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) can dramatically lower the cost of routine inspections and allow timely and appropriate intervention.  This strategy of using AUVs to inspect on a regular basis, followed by targeted interventions at problem areas using ROVs will result in lower costs overall, with a higher success ratio at interventions due to the early recognition of problems and an outcome of reduced adverse environmental impacts. The OFG AUV "Chercheur" is an fully equipped survey and pipeline inspection AUV with an unsurpassed suite of sensors including HiSAS (Synthetic Aperture Sonar), EM2040 multibeam echo-sounder, high resolution camera and on-board pipeline tracking software. These systems can be used to map as-built positions, buckling, movement, supports, mat positions, scours and free spans. There exists an opportunity to further extend the capabilities offered by Chercheur for the detection of invisible flaws such as cracking, pipeline erosion and corrosion (internal and external), and fractures through the use of technologies proven in the arena of subsea minerals.

Three technologies have particular application and can be readily adapted to use in AUV pipeline inspections.  These are E-field monitoring of galvanic protection systems, magnetic monitoring of impressed current cathodic protection (ICCP) systems and the measurement of the electromagnetic time decay constant of the pipe itself using a time domain electromagnetic (TEM) system.  (1) E-field monitoring implies measurement of the ambient electric field around a pipe using detection electrodes on an AUV.  The electric gradient in seawater is a measure of the cathodic current flowing from the pipeline, and the activity of active or passive cathodic protection electrodes. Anomalous reading will indicate a failure in the pipeline covering, or wastage of the cathodic electrodes.   (2) Magnetic measurements along the pipeline made with high frequency magnetometers can measure the amplitude of the cathodic protection current in the pipeline for ICCP systems.  If the current along the pipeline changes, this indicates leakage of current from the pipeline to the sea.  A correlating E-field anomaly may be expected at this location.  (3) TEM measurements will require a transmitter on the AUV, and then an appropriate high speed and very sensitive vector magnetometer to measure the secondary field from the induced secondary current in the pipeline caused by the TEM transmitter pulse.  The measurement of the time decay constant (tau) is important as this is a property of the pipe, and is independent of the transmitter and receiver geometry.   A change in tau will indicate a change in the physical condition of the pipe.  In particular, a reduced tau can be expected to correlate with damaged regions of the pipe.

All three methods are used in subsea mineral exploration, and equipment to make these measurements has been developed and is proven to work in the subsea environment.  The technology risk here is small, and the challenge is to demonstrate these technologies from the subsea mineral exploration world in the world of industrial subsea pipeline inspections.


About Peter Kowalczyk, BSc, P. Geo.

Chief Technical Officer, Ocean Floor Geophysics, Vancouver

Peter is a founder of Ocean Floor Geophysics (OFG), a company started in 2007 to provide geophysical services for seafloor exploration for minerals and gas hydrates.  Prior to starting Ocean Floor Geophysics he was chief geophysicist for Placer Dome Inc.  

Following graduation with a BSc degree in geophysics from the University of British Columbia, Peter joined Placer Dome as a project geophysicist in 1970 and worked on geophysical surveys around the world forporphyry copper, uranium, base metal and gold exploration, becoming chief geophysicist in 1992 that role Peter coordinated Placer's geophysical research and was heavily involved in the introduction and implementation of digital processing, visualization and geophysical inversion methods into the exploration practices at Placer Dome. In 2005 and 2006 Peter managed the geophysical component of Placer Dome's leading-edge exploration program for sea bottom massive sulphidesAn exploration generalist, he has particular experience in the processing and interpretation of airborne, ground and marine electromagnetic and electrical survey data. 

Since leaving Placer following its purchase by Barrick Gold and starting OFG in 2007, Peter has been the chief scientific officer managing multiple cruises to explore for and map seafloor massive sulfide deposits, and in particular has directed or carried out a variety of recent marine projects including:

·         Submarine Massive Sulfide (SMS) exploration projects in the South Pacific and around Japan,

·         Very high precision bathymetric mapping using ROVs and AUVs, and

·         Mapping offshore gas hydrate deposits using the Scripps Institute Vulcan CSEM system.

 He is the inventor of the patented Ocean Floor Geophysics submarine electromagnetic system, and has also been part of a team that has developed a magnetometer system that provides automatic and highly accurate heading-compensated data when mounted on AUVs and ROVs that have not been degaussed or specially prepared as magnetometer survey platforms.

Peter has presented and published a wide variety of talks and papers on both land and marine geophysical projects.

Peter has long been involved in pro-bono efforts in the geophysical community in BC, including serving a multi-year stint as President of the BC Geophysical Society.  Strongly committed to supporting and advancing geophysical education, Peter is also a long-serving Director of the KEGS Foundation and has guided fund-raising in the Lower Mainland community in support of the Foundation’s geophysical scholarship program.

Selected talks and publications:

·         Mapping SMS deposits during exploration and exploitation. Using Sonar, Magnetic, Electromagnetic & Seismic methods effectively, EAGE Munster, Mar 2016

·         CSEM for gas hydrate exploration - a new approach using the Scripps Institute of Oceanography CSEM Vulcan system, Gas Hydrate Workshop, Taiwan, Mar 2015

·         Geophysical Methods for the Mapping of Submarine Massive Sulphide Deposits, OTC, May 2015

·         Geophysical prelude to first exploitation of submarine massive sulphides, First Break, Nov 2008

·         Interactive geophysical inversion using qualitative geological constraints, Exploration Geophysics, Jan 2007

·         Theta Map: Edge detection in magnetic data, Geophysics, Jul 2005

·         What if your inversion has no numerical target?, ASEG mtg, Jan 2003

·         3 component borehole magnetometry in and around magnetic orebodies, SEG meeting, Jan 1999

·         3D inversion of resistivity and IP data, two case studies from mineral exploration, SEG meeting, Jan 1999

·          Applications of geophysical inversions in mineral exploration, Leading Edge, Apr 1998

·          Geophysics of the Big Bell gold deposit, Western Australia, ASEG, Jan 1994