Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) hosted two international science workshops in March at the University of Victoria’s Technology Enterprise Facility where researchers focused on expansion at the Endeavour node of ONC’s NEPTUNE observatory and ONC’s Northern Cascadia subduction zone observatory seafloor geodesy project.
At the 19-20 March Endeavour workshop, researchers discussed how existing and new infrastructure on the Endeavour Segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge can best be used to further the understanding of ridge axis processes and produce data to maximize scientific returns.
“The spectacular Endeavour vents have attracted international research attention since they were discovered in the early 1980s 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’s 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 U.S., France, and soon China—all connected to ONC’s NEPTUNE observatory, providing real-time data to researchers around the world.”
The workshop focused on how expanded instrumentation at Endeavour will improve 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 approximately 250 kilometres offshore Vancouver Island.
New instruments and sensors will be deployed at Endeavour this summer as part of ONC’s Expedition 2018: Wiring the Abyss. Hydrothermal vents at Endeavour are part of the Canadian federal government’s first marine protected area, established in 2003, and host a biologically diverse and productive ecosystem that is home to globally unique and distinct native animal species.
Endeavour workshop participants included researchers from Canada (University of Calgary), the U.S. (University of Washington; University of California-San Diego; University of Minnesota; University of Georgia), Japan (Tohoku University), China (IDSSE/Institute of Deep-sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences), and France (IFREMER/French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea).
ONC’s science theme leader for Endeavour is Laurence Coogan, a marine geologist, geochemist, and professor at UVic’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences.
At the 21-22 March Northern Cascadia workshop, researchers were brought together to work on the North Cascadia subduction zone observatory seafloor geodesy project, which would provide further critical information on seismic risks in British Columbia.
The Northern Cascadia observatory will be operated on ONC’s offshore NEPTUNE observatory, a cabled ocean monitoring system that crosses the major fault zone between the converging Juan de Fuca and North American tectonic plates. The proposed observatory seeks to equip scientists with the tools and data needed for the comprehensive study of these plates, whose movements trigger earthquakes and tsunamis.
The observatory proposal consists of a network of deep-sea geodesy stations that would monitor and measure plate deformation and “slow-slip” tectonic movement. These sophisticated seafloor stations would communicate acoustically with an autonomous Wave Glider surface vehicle, collecting and transmitting information to ONC's Oceans 2.0 data management system.
Northern Cascadia workshop participants included researchers from Canada (Natural Resources Canada/Pacific Geoscience Centre; Ocean Floor Geophysics; University of Victoria; University of Calgary), the U.S. (University of Washington; Scripps Institution of Oceanography/University of California-San Diego), Japan (Tohoku University), and Germany (GEOMAR/Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel).
The interdisciplinary team—led by ONC staff scientist Martin Heesemann—also discussed how to maximize scientific return of the infrastructure proposal and generate ideas for future initiatives.