The Tau Volantis Debris Field is an area filled with debris from destroyed vessels in the orbit of Tau Volantis. It is of substantial size and is in a stable, (low???) orbit.
The debris field has a number of damaged but relatively intact vessels in it, including the CMS Brusilov, the CMS Greely, the CMS Terra Nova and the CMS Roanoke. Besides spacecraft parts from destroyed vessels, the debris field also contains a number of functioning SK-1P system stations, a number of flight recorder satellites, and a large number of active, homing mines.
The SCAF flotilla arrived at Tau Volantis to investigate the source of the marker signal. Knowing that investigating marker sites would invariably result in infection by necromorph contagion, the SCAF took measures to prevent the spread of said contagion. One of the vectors of the infection would have been the vessels of the flotilla. In the event of a full scale, uncontrollable outbreak, the SCAF determined that the most prudent course of action would be to disable or destroy the fleet.
With this in mind, the SCAF deployed a battleship designed for mine warfare, which had the capability to destroy the entire fleet. Its duties, according to a log, included monitoring the rest of the fleet (presumably for necromorph contagion)
The plan to destroy the fleet was put into action after the declaration of Scenario Five, meaning an extinction level outbreak, and the mine warfare vessel released (all???) of its small, homing mines into the fleet, destroying most of the vessels and damaging all - in any case, rendering them useless as interstellar transport craft.
The mines also served to deter future visitors from nearing the infected fleet and acting as a vector for infection themselves.
Events of Dead Space 3Edit
Ellie Langford's team (presumably) exits shockspace close to the debris field. Presumably, like the Eudora after it, the group's ship falls victim to the mines, and the group is forced to find refuge aboard a more intact vessel, the Roanoke .
The Eudora exists shockspace close to the debris field, and almost immediately is set upon by tens, if not hundreds of automated mines (illustrating both the sheer number of mines that must have been deployed and the effectiveness of sich small mines against ships) and severely damaged to the point of destruction. The crew of the Eudora then proceed to search the debris field for Ellie Langford's team and a way to proceed to the surface of the planet.