Program Update – September 2011

OOI Program UpdateWhile a number of Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) activities took place on the West Coast over the course of the summer, including Installation of the Undersea Cable off the Oregon and Washington coasts and tests of the Endurance Array, significant OOI test and community outreach activities are taking place this fall on the East Coast.

September marked the first comprehensive At Sea Test of an OOI system on the East Coast with the successful test deployment of moorings off the New England Coast. The OOI team on the Research Vessel Oceanus on Sept. 22 deployed three test moorings at two sites on the continental slope south of Cape Cod. That shelf break is at 39o 55.0’ N, 70o 47.5’ W. At that location, two moorings — a surface mooring and a moored profiler — were placed at approximately 1710 feet (520 meters) water depth. A third mooring was placed at a deep ocean location at 39o 30.0’ N, 70o 47.5’ W. That mooring was placed at 8136 feet (2480 m). Two of the test moorings are for the Pioneer Array component of the OOI and another test mooring is designed to be used in the deep ocean global array part of the program.

The OOI team at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) reported they are receiving test data from the deployed test equipment. The information gleaned from the Pioneer Array will include sea temperature, winds, wave height and currents. The Pioneer Array will contain: 10 moorings distributed among seven sites; three Autonomous Underwater Vehicles and six gliders. WHOI and its partners, Oregon State University and Scripps Institution of Oceanography are responsible for the coastal and global moorings and their autonomous vehicles.

Though based on decades of experience, the OOI mooring designs are new and testing will allow the program to validate the designs of this important component of the program. Over the duration of its deployment Pioneer Array moorings are planned to be in place for approximately six months at a time before being replaced by refurbished moorings. The Pioneer Array test will include special instrumentation to allow examination of mooring performance during the deployment interval. Under the test plan, the moorings will be in place for approximately seven months with a planned recovery in April 2012.  After recovery, the OOI team will combine telemetered and recorded engineering data with observation and testing of mooring materials to evaluate performance. If necessary, the design will be fine-tuned prior to the Pioneer Array deployments. Read more details and see photos from the At Sea Test here.

The OOI Program also sponsored an OOI Community Outreach Event on Sept. 17 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum located in New Bedford, Mass., where the public viewed equipment displays, watched interactive videos and met with scientists from the program.OOI scientists and experts from the OOI Program Office at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and the WHOI conducted hands-on demonstrations and gave talks so that all ages of visitors from the coastal community could learn about the OOI. Scientists from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth also provided demonstrations on how ongoing ocean research and education will benefit from data that will result from the OOI. Visitors to the event were particularly interested in learning about the Pioneer Array component of the OOI that will operate off their local coast. Pioneer Array will be located off the coast of southern New England along the “continental shelf-break,” the boundary where coastal waters meet the open ocean.

Looking ahead a community workshop, “Science Planning for the OOI Regional Scale Node at Axial Seamount,” will be held Oct .5-7 in Seattle, WA. There have been many developments since the science community last gathered to discuss plans for the cabled observatory on the Juan de Fuca ridge. The workshop will provide opportunities to learn about the research opportunities of OOI Regional Scale Node. Click here for more details on the Workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Pacific Marine Environment Laboratory with support from members of the OOI Regional Scale Nodes team.

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


Tim Cowles, Program Director, Ocean Observing