Endurance Array Reaches 20th Deployment

Since 2014 when the U.S. National Science Foundation Ocean Observatories Initiative Coastal Endurance Array was first deployed in the waters off the coasts of Oregon and Washington, the array has been turned – that is moorings were recovered and replaced with new – 19 times.  The upcoming expedition on March 28th, with 15 scientists and engineers aboard the R/V Sikuliaq will be the 19th time that the array has been pulled out of the water and replaced, and the 20th time the array has been deployed.

Over the past nine years, the turns have happened every six months, except for in 2020 when COVID restrictions caused the Endurance team to space two consecutive turn cruises 9 months apart. Regular recovery and deployments are needed to ensure the observing equipment stays operational.

“The EA team has really gotten proficient at turning the arrays,” said Jonathan Fram, the Endurance Array’s Project Manager, who will serve as the Chief Scientist for this expedition, his 10th time leading the effort.  “We’ve made many technical improvements over the years to combat the powerful and ever-changing conditions of the Northeast Pacific Ocean so that we can continue to collect and report continuous ocean data from this important region.”

The 20th expedition will begin and end at the Oregon State University’s newly renovated pier in Newport, Oregon.  The arrays and associated equipment will be transported to Newport from Corvallis in six tractor trailer trucks. Because of the large size of these components, the expedition will be conducted in two legs. The first leg will head to the Washington site, with a transit time of 2/3’s of a day.  The second leg will be to the Oregon site.   In total, the team will recover and deploy six surface moorings (two battery powered buoys and four large buoys powered by  wind and solar energy), one offshore and three surface piercing profiler moorings, and four gliders.  One glider experiencing navigation issues will be recovered. CTD casts (to measure conductivity, temperature, and depth) and water sampling will be conducted along with each mooring operation.

This 20th trip includes several technical improvements. The line used on the Heavy Lift Winch has been increased in size to improve load strength and safety.  Each buoy will include a covered wagon style guard against sea lions, who regularly use the buoys as rest stops.  All batteries have been replaced or upgraded.  Additional improvements have been made that will result in better real-time wind data, and underwater camera operations.  The Endurance 20 team also will be deploying new test instruments to see if they might improve data gathering for wind, pH, and partial pressure of carbon dioxide.

To dissuade sea lions that regularly stop and rest on Endurance Array buoys, OOI engineers have ingeniously devised a steel cover to protect the solar panels that provide power to the mooring. Credit: Jonathan Fram, OSU.

“The order of operations will in part depend on conditions,” added Fram, who joked, “but we expect this trip to be easier than last spring’s, which was three weeks earlier, when we were preparing for the cruise in the snow.”

In addition to regular operations, the Endurance Team will be joined by scientific partners.  University of South Carolina (USC) researcher Eric Tappa and Oregon State University (OSU) student Faith Schell will be onboard to help turn a sediment trap adjacent to OOI’s Oregon Slope Base site.  This is part of an ongoing research effort of OSU Associate Professor Jennifer Fehrenbacher and USC Professor Claudia Benitez-Nelson, who study the geochemistry, biomineralization, and marine biology of the sediments.  Additionally, the team will be deploying fish tag readers for OSU Assistant Professor Taylor Chapple to support his work studying sharks and other large marine predators.

The expedition’s progress will be reported daily.  Bookmark this page and follow along as the work unfolds.