Soon We Depart For Another At Sea Expedition

Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Our Friends At Sea
Shallow Profiler Science Pod V17

Eric McRae, an engineer at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory, checks out an instrumented science pod to be installed on a Shallow Profiler Mooring during the VISIONS'17 cruise. Credit: D. Kelley, University of Washington.

The UW School of Oceanography in the College of the Environment, and the Applied Physics Laboratory Cabled Array team has been working long days getting ready for the upcoming field program July 25 to August 29, 2017. This expedition (VISIONS17) is the third Operations and Maintenance (O&M) cruise for the cabled component of the National Science Foundations’ Ocean Observatories Initiative. The cruise will use the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason onboard the R/V Roger Revelle operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Excitement is building as our equipment is fully tested, safely packed away, and now on its way via numerous trucks to Newport, Oregon where we will begin mobilizing the ship. Over 20 US and international undergraduate and graduate students will join us on this expedition, working side-by-side scientists, engineers, and the ship and ROV teams.

Similar to previous O& M cruises, this expedition is highly complex with a diverse array of ~120 instruments, junction boxes, and instrumented pods on the Shallow Profiler Moorings to be recovered, installed, and tested. The cruise will also include recovery and reinstallation of cabled Deep Profiler Moorings that reach ~10,000 feet beneath the oceans surface. The ship will be “packed to the gills” on each of the three legs that make up this expedition, carrying everything from state-of-the-art mooring components to sharpies.

You will be able to watch our underwater operations live through streaming video as the ROV Jason, operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, works 1) >300 miles off shore and 5000 ft down at the summit of Axial Seamount, an active volcano hosting numerous deep-sea active hot spring deposits associated with some of the most bizarre creatures on Earth; 2) offshore Newport, Oregon to depths of ~250 ft to 10,000 ft in some of the most biologically productive waters in the oceans; and 3) sedimented sites on the Cascadia margin where methane-rich plumes jet from the seafloor. Here, the methane seeps support dense bacterial mats and giant clams that thrive in the absence of sunlight on gases migrating through the seafloor.

An enhanced, high-bandwidth satellite connection from the R/V Revelle will allow you to experience our deep sea operations through live video streams to shore and onto the Internet at the speed of light. It will also allow scientists onboard to see data as new instruments deployed at depth are connected to 900 km of submarine fiber optic cable on the seafloor – providing an ocean Internet. During the cruise, engineers from the Applied Physics Lab will man an operations center in the School of Oceanography where they will communicate directly with the instruments as they are installed, turn power on an off, and command and control instruments from hundreds of miles away and far offshore (incluidng a resident cabled high definition camera that will stream video live from Axial Seamount throughout the year). All total, the system hosts > 140 instruments that data in real-time to shore 24/7, stored and visualized through the OOI cyberinfrastructure system at Rutgers University.

This past year has been a very busy one, getting prepared for this cruise - it will be great to be away from the dock, smell the salt air again, and work beneath the waves on some of the most advanced technology in the oceans.