On June 11, NEPTUNE Canada reached the halfway point for Wiring the Abyss 2012, this summer’s installation and maintenance cruise. Part of the original crew who set sail on May 27 returned to dry land at Bamfield after a very busy two weeks. They were replaced by a new contingent of crew members, who will remain with the ship until cruise end on 26 June. If you have been following on our cruise page, you’ll know that the first two weeks were very busy indeed!
27 May - 2 June: Barkley Canyon
The vertical profiler system, nicknamed POGO, was successfully deployed. A multibeam survey was carried out set a baseline for our understanding the evolution of hydrate mounds in Barkley Canyon.
A variety of instruments, including a broadband seismometer, were connected. All 4 “benthic pods” were recovered and redeployed. Some samples were collected including push cores, water samples, and biological specimens.
Wally II was swapped out for its twin, Wally I at Barkley hydrates. Two experiments were maintained in Wally’s study area: a study that uses mussel shells to investigate how carbonate persists in different environments and a longitudinal study of fluid chemistry that makes use of an osmotic water sampler.
2 - 3 June: Clayoquot Slope
ROPOS dove to the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program borehole 1364A, which is instrumented with an advanced circulation obviation retrofit kit(ACORK). This ACORK is not connected to the NEPTUNE Canada network but records data autonomously so the data must be downloaded by remotely operated vehicles like ROPOS. The ACORK was also tested to be sure it is functioning optimally as it will be instrumented with additional equipment next year. A visual transect was completed and a 1 metre long push core was collected.
The auxiliary broadband seismometer instrument platform was replaced, a new sonar installed, and an autonomous osmo-sampler was recovered. A whale carcass discovered in 2009 by researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute was revisited revealing only bones.
3 - 10 June: Cascadia Basin
The first of three 25 km cables in the planned new tsunami detection array was laid, with a few snags. ROPOS completed a record dive, nearly 70 hours long, hobbling most of the way with a broken chain drive on its cable-laying system. Unfortunately, the cable did not survive the laying process unscathed. Testing revealed that the optical fibre was broken both near the cable end and about 2 km back from the end. The cable end was retrieved to ship, cut shorter (from 25 to 23 km), reterminated and returned to the seafloor. But upon reconnection, the installation team discovered new breaks in the optical fibres, which will require further repair.
In addition to the cable lay work, multibeam surveys were completed to fill in bathymetry gaps at Cascadia Basin. The ship then headed for Folger for the crew change on 11 June.
A highlight for everyone was the celebration of World Oceans Day on June 8th. Onshore, several Ocean Networks Canada staff members hosted sessions with school groups at the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. The shore team used the ship’s satellite link to connect directly to marine educator, Scott Doehler, aboard the Thompson over 200 km offshore. Scott gave the lucky school groups a virtual tour of the ship and even let them see Wally II, resting in the lab. World Oceans Day festivities continued over the weekend, as on-shore staff gave presentations about Ocean Networks Canada and again connected live to the ship for a session with Scott. Staff and students from Ocean Networks Canada, Camosun College, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the University of Victoria presented to the public on a variety of aspects of the ocean on Saturday and Sunday.
You can follow all the activities of the ship and installation procedures through live video streams, photos, Twitter, Facebook and blog posts from the cruise. We hope you’ll join us virtually for the second half of this exciting cruise!