Four elements of the OOI Coastal Profiler mooring recovery system are strung out from the stern of the R/V Knorr during deployment operations. The “line pack” (left) has an acoustic release at its center and allows the line from the anchor to be brought to the surface by the lower Backup Recovery Buoyancy (BRB) module (second from left). The mooring riser release (second from right) is fired to separate the mooring from the anchor. The release is brought to the surface by the upper BRB (far right). Credit: Al Plueddemann, ©WHOI.

In 2021, the Ocean Observatories Initiative Facilities Board (OOIFB) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) launched a process to consider whether to move the Pioneer Array from its current location, on the New England shelf and slope south of Martha’s Vineyard, to a new site. Selection of the next OOI Pioneer Array location, or decision to maintain the Array at its current location, will be driven by community input on the important science questions that can be addressed by the Pioneer Array.

The OOI community has been invited to weigh in on this important decision during a two-phase sequential lab approach that is bringing together scientists, educators, and other stakeholders together virtually to evaluate 1) future location options for the Pioneer Array and 2) new design considerations that can enable exciting research endeavors at the chosen location.

The Phase 1 Innovations Lab will be held on March 15-19 to explore possible locations for the Pioneer Array based on multiple factors, driven by scientific questions that require an ocean observatory to advance knowledge. At the Lab, interdisciplinary teams will work together to ideate and develop a roadmap of possible locations including exploring new scientific, educational, and partnership opportunities.  Participation was open to the all, and 32 applicants were selected to participate in this important decision.

The Phase 2 Innovations Lab, in late spring/early summer, will come up with a plan to maximize the science gains and broader impacts of the potential new site. If a new site is recommended, the Array would be moved in 2023. The OOI Coastal and Global Scale Nodes (CGSN) Team at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution would continue the operation and maintenance of the array, regardless of its location.

The Lab’s findings will be considered by an NSF review panel, which will report to NSF in early fall on the new Pioneer Array location and how it can be optimized for science and education.  The findings of both Innovations Lab will be shared with the OOI community.