In the News
With a high-tech remotely operated vehicle, a team is able to map a dark, hot and toxic vent field on the ocean floor.
The waters of Hecate Strait are restless and notoriously unpredictable. But down at the bottom of the 100-kilometre-wide channel that separates Haida Gwaii from mainland British Columbia lies a series of formations so astonishing that even now, nearly 30 years after discovery, scientists can hardly believe what they are seeing.
At 7:33 p.m. PST on July 26th, 2015, after descending ~1840 m beneath the oceans surface, the remotely operated vehicle ROPOS and the University of Washington Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Cabled Array team set first eyes on the April 24th, 2015 voluminous eruption of Axial Seamount during the VISIONS’ 15 cruise. Within two minutes of reaching the seafloor, fresh bulbous pillow flows on top of older flows were encountered.
Hundreds of miles off the coast of Oregon and Washington, there's an undersea volcano known as Axial Seamount. Two months ago when it began spewing lava, it wasn't a secret to a group of scientists engaged in a groundbreaking research project. Hari Sreenivasan reports on their Cabled Observatory -- a network of sensors, moorings and cameras that offers views of a little-known world.
At 160 metres beneath the ocean waves, it's snowing hard. Streams of sediment, particulates, and bacteria drift past the wide-angle lenses of the robotic submersible as it descends. "We're getting close, guys," University of Alberta biologist Sally Leys tells its pilots. "I see the bottom. Slow..." From the grey/brown sea floor loom shrubs of sea sponges in pale yellow and dish-glove orange. "Aren't they pretty?" Leys asks. Images of tubular sponges -- like a cross between a brass instrument and giant cannelloni -- fill the video feeds.
Members of the U.S. National Science Foundation's Ocean Observatory Initiative (OOI) are approaching the end of an nearly three month-long cruise during which they installed a fiberoptic cables and power lines that form the backbone of a seafloor observatory in the Pacific Ocean. The observatory will make it possible for oceanographers and other researchers to gather data about the ocean floor in real time from a network of seismometers, cameras, and other sensors hundreds of kilometers off-shore and as deep as 1800 meters beneath the ocean's surface.
Throughout the 83-day expedition, groups of UW students have each spent two weeks or more working aboard the UW’s large research vessel, the Thomas G. Thompson. Around 45 students, mostly undergraduates, are participating. Most are taking the Ocean 411: Seagoing Research and Discovery course, which has them working with scientists, engineers – and a specialized robot called ROPOS that installs cables, power and communication hubs, and instruments on the ocean floor as part of the observatory construction phase.
Deep-water coral is a lot harder to find and study than its Caribbean and South Pacific counterparts. It took scientists Martha Nizinski and Anna Metaxas two years to mount an expedition to the eastern edge of Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine to study these colonial animals that feed on the detritus that rains down on them from above.
A team of U.S. and Canadian scientists and engineers will spend two weeks at the end of June surveying and collecting samples of deep-sea corals and related marine life in canyons in the northern Gulf of Maine in both U.S. and Canadian waters.
The Neptune observatory takes advantage of the undersea equipment, such as Wally, to gather real time data about the ever changing ocean enviroment. John Delaney's vision of having cabled observatories to collect data back in 1991 has come almost full circle with the Ocean Observatories Initiative's Regional Scale Nodes. Some of the equipment used in the cabled observatories will be used to detect the methane gasses release by the decaying biomass at the bottom of the oceans. Seismometers, video cameras, and CTD(Condutivity, Temperature, Depth) sensors, are used to provide real time data to scientists and students on shore.
ROPOS assisting researchers aboard the R/V Falkor to study the migration of low oxygen enviroments surrounding the Vancouver Island area.
Ocean Networks Canada teams up with Schmidt Ocean Institute to collect data on the low oxygen flows.
R/V Falkor assisting research of the marine low oxygen enviroments
Researcher aboard the R/V Falkor study the low oxygen enviroments around the coast of Vancouver Island. With the help of ROPOS, researchers can map the migration of these low oxygen area.
R/V Falkor's voyage to Axial seamount with ROPOS to conduct research on submarine volcanos.
R/V Falkor docked at Ogden point, scientists study areas of low oxygen enviroment
R/V Falkor teams with researchers and ROPOS to study the dead zone
The Thomas G Thompson prepares for another summer of undersea observatory installation, wiring, and testing using the ROPOS. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Ocean Observatories Intiative is set to start streaming live data starting in 2015.
Canadian researcher study the oceans surrounding Canada. Researchers from BC using the VENUS and NEPTUNE obervatories to collect oceanic data from the Pacific Ocean, while the Canadian Artic Shelf Exchange Study face down the challenges of conducting research in the Artic.
Researchers from the University of Victoria use pig carcasses to study decomposition in the sea.
The Thomas G Thompson along with ROPOS assist in the installation of the Ocean Observatories Initiative's high power and high bandwidth cabled ocean observatory.