Pioneer Relocation Update 2021-09-29

The Pioneer Array, currently sited on the New England Shelf (NES), was conceived within OOI as a re-locatable, coastal array (OOI Science Plan, 2001; OOI Science Prospectus, 2007). At the Fall 2020 American Geophysical Union meeting, the National Science Foundation announced the start of a process for relocation of the Array.  After a variety of community engagement activities and two intensive Innovations Labs, it was determined that the Pioneer Array will be relocated to the southern Middle Atlantic Bight (MAB). Existing infrastructure, with some modifications, will be utilized to create a new Array to address compelling science questions at the new site.

The OOI Program is consolidating the community input and preparing for Pioneer relocation activities. The overall effort is complex, and will span roughly 30 months. In order to provide a window for these efforts within the existing operational budget, there will be a pause in Pioneer field activities. Preliminary plans are for the final recovery of the NES Pioneer Array in the fall of 2022 and the initial deployment of the MAB Array in the spring of 2024. The figure below shows the anticipated timeline, with three main phases. Phase 1 will focus on preparatory activities, including environmental and engineering assessments, and a study of regulatory requirements. During Phase 2, the bulk of the engineering and design effort will be conducted. During Phase 3, environmental compliance and permitting will be completed, along with the preparation of the infrastructure for deployment.