Following the successful completion of Wiring the Abyss Leg 1 aboard Canadian Coast Guard ship (CCGS) John P. Tully, the Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) team are busy preparing for Leg 2 of our annual offshore expedition to install and improve cabled observatory infrastructure, 21 July - 4 August. The upcoming 2-week expedition aboard exploration vessel (E/V) Nautilus will complete many of the installations deployed aboard CCGS Tully (Figure 1).
Highlights of this 2-part expedition include the deployment of a long-awaited vertical profiling system at Barkley Canyon, installation of the last set of earthquake early warning sensors, a new neutrino experiment (Figure 2), and a doubling of instrumentation at Canada’s first marine protected area Endeavour Hydrothermal Vent Field, including two new platforms, replacement of two regional circulation moorings, and the addition of many new seismic sensors.
Expanded instrumentation at Endeavour will help us understand this extreme dynamic ecosystem, improving the ability of scientists to continuously monitor and study the northern segment of this mid-ocean ridge located more than two kilometres below sea level and set in a challenging deep ocean environment that includes hot vent fields and actively spreading ocean crust.
“The spectacular Endeavour vents have attracted international research attention since they were discovered in the early 1980’s and have produced many firsts, from the hottest black smokers and the tallest chimneys to the most heat-tolerant animals and microbes—not to mention being the location of the world first hydrothermal vent marine protected area,” says ONC chief scientist Kim Juniper. “Endeavour has also become the world’s most international deep-sea cabled observatory site, with instruments from research labs in Canada, the United States, UK, France and now China—all connected to ONC’s NEPTUNE observatory, providing real-time data to researchers around the world.” (Figure 4).
“The seismic network at the Endeavour is critical for understanding the geological processes that create oceanic crust because the distribution and characteristics of earthquakes provides direct information about plate boundary extension, subsurface magma movements, and hydrothermal heat extraction. The new seismometers at Endeavour will improve the geometry of the network and thus improve the reliability of earthquake locations. The tight network in the Main field will enable a search for very small cracking events in the upper few hundred meters of crust that may be related to hydrothermal flow and chemical reactions.” William S. D. Wilcock, Professor and Associate Director, School of Oceanography, University of Washington.
“With the installation of new instruments at Endeavour, we will soon have the data to better understand the link among geological, chemical, biological and oceanographic processes operating at mid-ocean ridges. New instruments include seismometers, recording sub-surface tectonic activity; sensors directly installed in hydrothermal vents, recording changes in temperature and (bio)chemistry; cameras watching the associated biology; and moorings recording water column changes related to vent fluids that rise hundreds of metres above the seafloor.” Laurence Coogan, marine geologist, geochemist, professor at the University of Victoria’s School of Earth and Ocean Science and ONC’s science theme leader for Endeavour.
Check out the highlights of Wiring the Abyss Leg 1 here: Twitter Moment.