More than two kilometres down in the inky depths of the Pacific Ocean and 300 km off the coast of Vancouver Island, Canada has just made scientific and technological history. The installation of NEPTUNE Canadathe world's largest and most advanced cabled ocean observatoryhas been completed.
The installation team returned to Esquimalt earlier this week aboard the research vessel T.G. Thompson after four weeks at sea. Most of the voyage was spent at volcanically active Endeavour Ridge, where the team installed two six-kilometre cables and 29 instruments on the seafloor and connected them to the main NEPTUNE Canada network.
"High-pressure work in harsh environments sounds like a recipe for disaster, but the excitement carried us through storms, equipment failure and long shifts. There was a pervasive feeling of being part of a significant achievement," says Dr. Mairi Best, NEPTUNE Canada's associate director (science) and co-leader of the expedition.
NEPTUNE Canada is managed by Ocean Networks Canada for a consortium led by the University of Victoria. Along with its coastal sister, VENUS, it pioneers a new generation of ocean observation systems that, using power and the Internet, provides continuous, long-term monitoring of ocean processes and events, as they happen.
The entire observatorywhich features an 800-km loop of powered fibre-optic cable, and power and communication nodes at five key scientific siteshas taken almost 10 years to plan, develop and install.
A key member of the installation team was ROPOS, a remotely operated vehicle system managed by the Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility, based in Sidney, BC.
Endeavour Ridge proved to be the team's most challenging installation site. Before laying several kilometres of cable through a subsea mountain range pocked with deep chasms, jagged rocks and belching hot vents, ROPOS "flew" slowly along the route, surveying the bottom with high-resolution son
|Contact: Valerie Shore|
University of Victoria