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Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory

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MCRL

The Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory is uniquely positioned for marine-based research that focuses on helping the nation achieve sustainable energy, a sustaining environment, and coastal security.

Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory (MCRL), which was previously known as the Marine Sciences Laboratory, is the U.S. Department of Energy’s only marine research facility. MCRL, located at PNNL-Sequim, is uniquely positioned for marine-based research that is focused on helping the nation achieve sustainable energy, a sustaining environment, and coastal security.

Sequim Bay links a small, but relatively undisturbed, watershed to the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the Puget Sound. This allows for:

  • direct studies of environmental impacts on marine species
  • a potential study area for energy deployment
  • use of seawater in adjacent lab facilities
  • testing of innovative marine sensors
  • rapid access to diverse marine environments.

Nearly 15,000 square feet of research laboratories are connected to the bay via a supply system that delivers 200 gallons of seawater per minute and returns it to the bay after treatment. MCRL's unique location is also within one of the cleanest airsheds in the world, providing an ultratrace background for work in measurement and signature sciences.

To defend coastal regions, MCRL researchers engineer new approaches to address the greatest challenges in detecting and responding to national and global threats. Programs focus on developing efficient and effective ways to translate data acquired from environmental media—air, water, sediment, and biota—into information that can be acted upon.

MCRL research is supported by more than 80 staff members with expertise in biotechnology, biogeochemistry, ecosystems science, toxicology, and Earth systems modeling. A dive team is also on staff to support in-water research and testing. Projects at MCRL span algal biofuels, biofouling and biocorrosion, climate change and ocean acidification, environmental monitoring, quantification of transport and effects of chemicals in marine environments, and coastal risk and hazard prediction and analysis.