Program Update – August 2011

OOI Program UpdateThis month the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) team in the Pacific Northwest conducted a wide range of significant activities including a special expedition to survey the future site of the OOI off the Oregon and Washington coasts, tests of critical components of system hardware for the Endurance Array and continued installation of the undersea cable that will bring ocean observations to shore.

The University of Washington’s VISIONS ’11 Expedition conducted OOI survey work between Aug 11 and Sept 1 aboard the 274-foot R/V Thomas G. Thompson. A major activity during the cruise included streaming of live, high-resolution underwater video from the two primary study sites on the OOI cabled network: the Hydrate Ridge gas-hydrate system and an underwater volcano at Axial Seamount. During the expedition, the first live video was shown since that volcano spewed massive amounts of lava on April 6. The primary purpose of the expedition was to continue to prepare for, survey, and assess the ongoing installation of extension cables and instrumentation for the high-power and high-bandwidth regional cabled network component of the OOI program. Video taken in support of instrument site verification and mapping surveys is available on the University of Washington VISIONS ’11 Expedition Website. Visit the OOI Website for more information and to read a National Science Foundation News Release on Visions ’11.

Meanwhile, other members of the OOI team onboard the cable laying ship TE Subcom Dependable continued operations off the Oregon coast to deploy and bury electro-optical cable as part of the current OOI installation activities. That cable that will make it possible with anyone who has an Internet connection to link to OOI data connected to shore earlier this summer at Pacific City, Ore. Click here for a full story on Cable Installation.

The program also conducted several tests of instruments planned for the Endurance Array off the Oregon coast.  As part of ongoing tests this summer, the OOI team conducted a field engineering and verification test, called Inshore Mooring Test 2 (ISMT2), to examine a number of mooring subsystems.  The mooring, designed and constructed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Oregon State University engineers, was deployed March 19, 2011, near Newport.  The team successfully recovered the mooring on Aug. 6, 2011.   At-sea observations are being used to assess the static and dynamic performance of innovative mooring designs that will be incorporated into the final mooring to be deployed in 2013.  To read a full feature story about the range of Endurance Array test activities taking place, please click here:  Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Conducts Endurance Array Tests.  Click here to see Endurance Array Photos or to watch a Video on Preliminary Testing for the Benthic Experiment Package or here for a Video on Benthic Experiment Package Deployment and SMT2 Recovery.

Going into the fall, the program will increase outreach efforts with an OOI  Community Event on Sept. 17, 2011, at The New Bedford Whaling Museum located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, Massachusetts 02740.  The public is invited to the free event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to see equipment displays, watch interactive videos, and meet scientists from the program in the Museum Gallery.  Ocean scientists also will give talks in the Museum Auditorium at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. for all ages to learn to more about the OOI and the components of the system that will operate off the New England coast.  For more information on this event, email or call (508) 289-2252 or (703) 787-1685.  Click here to access this special Event Brochure.

More OOI deployments will occur in September, when the program will initiate a seven-month ‘at-sea test’ of three mooring types.  The test moorings will be deployed at two locations on the continental slope, south of Cape Cod.  More information about the planned deployments can be found on the OOI website.

Please follow our progress on OOI’s upcoming exciting milestones and upcoming events here on the OOI Website.


Tim Cowles
Program Director, Ocean Observing