With excitement and under misty Seattle skies, the UW engineering and science team on the R/V Sikuliaq pulled away from the School of Oceanography dock at 0800 to begin the VISIONS’16 expedition. This cruise is the second Operations and Maintenance cruise for the National Science Foundation’s Cabled Observatory (the Cabled Array) that is part of the Ocean Observatories Initiative.
After going through the Ballard Locks, the Sikuliaq headed south to load 115,000 gallons of fuel! In the evening, we began our >300 mile transit out to Axial Seamount, the largest underwater volcano off the Oregon Washington coast. The day was busy, filled with a safety meeting – all science personnel donned emergency survival suits, orientation meeting about the remotely operated
Once on site Tuesday morning, the first task will be to use the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason, to recover and install instrumented science pods on a Shallow Profiler mooring at the base of the volcano. These moorings are some of the most technologically advanced in the worlds’ oceans hosting 18 instruments connected directly to the Internet though 325 miles of offshore high bandwidth and high power communications cables. Sending data at the speed of light to shore in real-time, these moorings are providing new insights about thin layers within the ocean that have unique chemical and biological signatures – these thin layers are not visible from satellites, and rarely viewed using standard instrumentation off of ships. They are also detecting underwater waves that travel across the ocean, as well as real-time information about ocean acidification, and ocean warming/climate change.
Today we are continuing to ready the equipment that packs the aft deck of the Sikuliaq, catch up on sleep after the final push to get ready to go on this adventure, and get used to the gentle rocking of the ship. Everyone is anxious to start operations!