• 3D model of marine growth
    3D composite image & derived mesh-model of plumose anemones on artificial substrate


Improving marine growth estimates using 3D photogrammetry

Offshore infrastructure, including oil and gas and renewables installations, are rapidly colonised by a diverse range of animals and plants referred to as marine growth. The nature and extent of marine growth has both engineering and ecological consequences for the performance and integrity of offshore infrastructure. From an engineering perspective, marine growth changes critical structure characteristics affecting performance at both the operational (e.g. drag and loading forces) and decommissioning phases (e.g. jacket lifting/towing). From an ecological perspective, marine growth is the basis for the 'reef-effect' offered by offshore structures; marine growth provides ecosystem services such as water filtration, food provision and shelter (e.g. for commerical fish species).

The scale of offshore energy, and the associated installation and removal of structures, is considerable and includes the commissioning of new wind-farms (up to 50,000 wind-turbines are projected by 2050 in Europe) and decommissioning of oil and gas structures (>20% of North Sea assets to be decommissioned within 10 years).

Industry needs to monitor four aspects of the marine growth on their installations. These aspects are marine growth type (e.g. mussels, coral, anemones) mass, volume and surface roughness. Accurate estimation of these aspects is required in order to (1) inform engineering decisions that account for effects of marine growth, (2) optimise cleaning regimes and planning, (3) inform lifting operations at decommissioning and (4) organise disposal of the marine growth.

This feasibility assessment produces best practice guidelines to industry for optimal methods to generate and use 3D images in assessing marine growth. The knowledge embedded in end-users organisations, as result of this project, will steer adoption of 3D imaging as a novel marine growth assessment tool.


Role of SAMS

The SAMS team are optimising and calibrating the utilisation of standard photographic/video methodologies to generate 3D images of marine growth.  The 3D images are used to estimate biomass and biovolume of fouling communities on offshore oil and gas and offshore energy infrastructure.