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Marine Sciences Division

Experimental Littoral Mesocosms

The coastal research mesocosm environments at MSL enable controlled and parallelizable mid-scale research on shoreline, intertidal, and near-shore ecosystems. At the core of this capability are eight identical tanks measuring 1.8m long x 3m wide x 1.2m high. Pairs of tanks are connected to a head tank used for preconditioning of the water supply. This method gives researchers control over temperature, salinity, turbidity, and other conditions. The water supply options for the head tanks include unfiltered or filtered seawater and non-chlorinated fresh well water. Lighting can be from natural sunlight or variable intensity LED illumination. Water depth can be held constant, or regulated drains may be used to simulate tidal fluctuations.

In addition to the rectangular tanks, we have large circular tanks ranging from 1,390 L to 62,000 L . Three tanks, one holding 62,000 L and two holding 31,100 liters maintain active eelgrass (Zostera marina) communities. Paired with bench-scale laboratory research and field studies, the various mesocosm tanks complete the laboratory's capability to conduct research on biogeochemical processes across multiple scales. Furthermore, we have analytical tools for detailed analysis of:

  • sediment and water geochemistry
  • the water-atmosphere interface
  • biochemistry
  • the dynamics and behavior of microbial and macrobiotic populations and communities
31,000 L research tank

31,000 L research tank

62,000 L research tank

62,000 L research tank

Marine Sciences Laboratory

Research Areas

PNNL Websites



Class-100 Clean Laboratories

Trace Elemental and Chemical Speciation Analytical Capability

Mercury Analytical Laboratory

Organic Chemistry

Biotechnology Laboratories

Microalgal Research

Aquatics Research Laboratories

Hyperbaric Lab

Ice Lab

Oil Lab

Littoral Wave Tank

Biofouling/Biocorrosion Mesocosms

Climate-Simulated Aquaculture Raceway Ponds

Mineral Extraction from Seawater

Chem/Bio Isolation Laboratories

Electromagnetic Field Generators

Electronics/Optics Laboratories

Outdoor Research Platforms

Flow Tank


Experimental Littoral Mesocosms

Wetland Research Sites

Research Vessels

Lidar Buoys

Scientific Dive Team

Littoral RDT&E Center