Exploring the Ocean with OOI Data – 2nd Edition

A collection of laboratory exercises featuring data from the Ocean Observatories Initiative.

Lab Chapters & Authors

Lab 1 – Introduction to the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) – The collection of oceanographic data

  • Denise L. Bristol, Hillsborough Community College-SouthShore
  • Anna Pfeiffer-Herbert, Stockton University
  • Lauren Sahl, Maine Maritime Academy

Lab 2 – Building Data Skills – The display of oceanographic data

  • Lauren Sahl, Maine Maritime Academy
  • Anna Pfeiffer-Herbert, Stockton University
  • Denise Bristol, Hillsborough Community College-SouthShore

Lab 3 – Geology – Plate Tectonics and the Seafloor

  • Benjamin R. Jordan, Brigham Young University-Hawaii
  • Kathleen Browne, Rider University

Lab 4 – Geology – Sea Floor Changes in a Volcanically Active Setting

  • Kathleen Browne, Rider University
  • Benjamin R. Jordan, Brigham Young University-Hawaii


Lab 5 – Ocean Chemistry – Investigating Density and Stratification in the Ocean

  • Jacqui Degan, Cape Fear Community College
  • Mikelle Nuwer, University of Washington

Lab 6 – Ocean Physics – Waves Generated by Large Storms

  • Joseph W. Long, University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Richard W. Dixon, Texas State University

Lab 7 – Primary Production – Identify factors that control Primary Production in the western temperate Atlantic Ocean

  • Gabriela Smalley, Rider University
  • Rebecca Freeman, University of Kentucky

Lab 8 – Anoxic Events – Solve the mystery of the dying crabs

  • Rebecca Freeman, University of Kentucky
  • Gabriela Smalley, Rider University

Interactive Data Visualization Designer (all labs)

  • Sage Lichtenwalner, Rutgers University


  • Denise L. Bristol, Hillsborough Community College-SouthShore
  • Anna Pfeiffer-Herbert, Stockton UniversityGroup photo: Data Labs Notebook Team

Project Staff: Rutgers University

  • Project Manager: Janice McDonnell
  • Project Coordinator: Christine Bean
  • Project Assistant: Devin Busono


The Ocean Data Labs Manual was developed by collaborating undergraduate professors to:

  • Engage undergraduate students with online large data set activities related to key oceanography concepts.
  • Build student confidence in scientific questioning, data analysis, and synthesis while capitalizing on large, professionally-collected data sets like the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI).
  • Teach students about authentic, messy scientific data vs ‘cleaned-up’ textbook examples.
  • Train undergraduate students in basic data skills, data interpretation and analysis, and reinforce those skills within each lab chapter.
  • Ensure that each activity and widgets are properly scaffolded to be accessible to students from a variety of backgrounds.
  • Provide a real world context for the oceanographic data and introduce students to data skills that they can use as science majors or non-majors.
  • To build data literacy and critical thinking skills in undergraduate students.
  • Provide instructors from a variety of different backgrounds with online and ‘Plug and Play’ versions of lab activities for their classes.
  • Provide lab activities follow a typical course sequence, but may be used as stand alone modules.
  • Be used in a variety of introductory oceanography (or similar geosciences) courses at 2YC or 4YC.
  • Flexible for use in face-to-face, online or hybrid lecture or lab courses.

Instructors’ Guides

Instructors: We would love to hear from you if you’re planning to use any of these lab activities in your course. We encourage you to share your plans with us using our short survey. You can also use this form to request answer keys, which we ask that you do not share so we can maintain the challenge of the data explorations for future students.

Data Sources

For more information on the datasets used in this lab manual, including Python notebooks showing how many of the datasets were processed, check out Data Sources for the OOI Lab Manual.


©2021 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. All rights reserved.


We encourage the reuse and dissemination of the material in this lab manual for noncommercial education purposes as long as attribution is retained. To this end, the material in this manual, unless otherwise noted, is offered under a Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0.

Attribution should include, at a minimum, citation of the chapter with authors and editors in the following format and indicate if changes were made:

[contributing chapter authors] and Lichtenwalner, S. (2021). [chapter title]. In Bristol, D.L. and Pfeiffer-Herbert, A. (Eds.), Ocean Data Labs: Exploring the Ocean with OOI Data – Online Laboratory Manual. 2nd edition. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Accessed [date] https://datalab.marine.rutgers.edu/ooi-lab-exercises/


NSF LogoWe would like to thank the many Faculty Reviewers who pilot tested the manual in the Fall of 2020, and provided valuable feedback that allowed us to greatly improved the 2nd edition.  A second round of faculty reviews will take place in the Fall of 2021.

This project was developed with the support of the National Science Foundation under Grant No. OCE-1831625. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.