[media-caption path="/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/live-video-placeholder.jpg" link="https://interactiveoceans.washington.edu/v20-live-video/"] Watch what’s happening aboard  R/V Thomas G. Thompson now by clicking the image above.[/media-caption]

For the month of August, you can be a scientist aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson Regional Cabled Array expedition and explore the ocean floor and biologically-rich waters of the northeastern Pacific Ocean in real-time. A livestream is being broadcast of onboard activities and from the ROV, as it recovers and deploys instrumentation to maintain the Regional Cabled Array. Bookmark this livestream link and during August you can experience life and science at sea.

Please note: The livestream video is transmitted from the ship to a satellite, then to shore.  Occasionally, the land-based down-link system goes down and depending on the ship’s heading, there may be an intermittent pause in the satellite connection. If the screen is blank or you see an error code, please check back soon as the connection should refresh shortly.


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[media-caption type="image" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/20140807T040826Z_IMG_2346_DxO-1.jpg" link="#"] An RCA instrumented Deep Profiler will be one of 200 instruments recovered or deployed during the month-long expedition. Credit: M. Elend, UW, V14.[/media-caption]

The University of Washington (UW) Regional Cabled Array (RCA) team entered a two-week quarantine period on 16 July before heading out to sea August 1, aboard the UW global class research ship the R/V Thomas G. Thompson for a month-long expedition in the northeastern Pacific. The expedition is funded by the National Science Foundation as part of the Ocean Observatories Initiative. The team will need whatever rest they can muster during the quarantine, as the expedition promises to be replete with round-the-clock activity, including multiple dives a day by the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason.

During this expedition, the team will recover and reinstall more than 200 instruments with the ROV, while broadcasting livestream video from the ROV Jason to the ship, to a satellite over 22,000 miles above the Earth.  From space, the video will then be transmitted to the UW, where it will be publicly available on the UW InteractiveOceans website. A daily blog will provide updates on the expeditions progress. Throughout the month, viewers will witness life thriving at depths 2900 m (>9500 ft) beneath the ocean surface and at Axial Seamount, the most active submarine volcano off the coast of Oregon and Washington.

[media-caption type="image" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Control-room-_Jason_Hell_-Vent-scaled.jpg" link="#"] An example of some of the stunning imagery that will be live-streamed during the RCA expedition. Credit: Ramya Ravichandran Asha, UW, V19.[/media-caption]

The RCA consists of 900 kilometers of cable that provide high-power, bandwidth, and two-way communication to 150 scientific instruments on the seafloor and to state-of-the art instrumented moorings that relay a constant stream of real-time ocean data to shore, 24 hours 365 days a year. All data are freely available to the community.

Being in corrosive saltwater for a 12-month stint is a hostile environment for equipment, so every summer a team of UW scientists and engineers head out to the array to recover equipment and deploy replacement ocean observing instrumentation These recovery and redeployment missions ensure that data continuously flow to shore from this Internet-connected array. At the RCA, cabled instruments are located across the Cascadia Margin, the Southern Hydrate Ridge, and at Axial seamount, each making an important contribution to better understanding the subseafloor environment. Cascadia Margin is one of the most biologically productive areas in the global ocean. Explosions of methane-rich bubbles issuing from beneath the seafloor rise > 1000 feet into the overlying water column at Southern Hydrate Ridge. Axial seamount has erupted in 1998, 2011, and 2015 and hosts some of the most extreme environments on Earth—underwater hot springs venting fluids at >700°C.

Dr. Orest Kawka, an RCA Senior Research Scientist, and Brendan Philip from the UW will sail as Chief Scientists – directing the cruise during the four weeks at sea.  As an undergraduate, Philip sailed on numerous RCA cruises as part of the UW educational VISIONS at sea experiential learning program, which has taken over 160 undergraduate students to sea, and later as a member of the RCA team.  He is now pursuing a master’s degree in Technology, Science, and Policy at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Because of the large amount of gear (over 80,000 pounds of equipment) to load onto the fantail of the Thompson for deployment, the cruise will consist of two legs.

[media-caption type="image" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/RCA-Jason-manipulator-with-sea-anemones.jpg" link="#"]The manipulator arm of the ROV Jason operates in front of an anemone-covered junction box in the highly productive waters at the Oregon Shelf site. Credit: UW/OOI-NSF/WHOI, V19.[/media-caption]

During more than 30 Jason missions to the deep, viewers will witness parts of the ocean rarely seen by humans. The team hopes to revisit some of the scientific highlights of last year’s expedition.  One such highlight was Jason being investigated by a swarm of large sable fish. At another site at 80 meters, a junction box became an island completely encrusted in beautiful sea anemones. At Southern Hydrate Ridge, the team saw rarely seen exposed methane hydrate and a moonscape topography dramatically changed from the year before, marked by new explosion pits and collapsed areas. And, on many past expeditions, team members have seen a novel prehistoric-looking fish, which was first filmed in the ocean on the 2014 RCA cruise at the Slope Base site at a depth of 9500 ft.  The RCA team fondly refers to this creature as “the weird fish,” (Genioliparis ferox), which also has been documented off Antarctica.

“We’ve got a fantastic team sailing this year, who have been putting in an incredible amount of work for months to get us ready. But like all cruises sailing this year, we’re dealing with the necessary challenge of having a smaller science party and still making sure we can safely accomplish the science and recovery and deployments. We will be in constant communication with the rest of the team back on shore, who will contribute as much to getting our work done as will the science party on the ship. The RCA team is grateful for the opportunity to sail during what has turned out to be a challenging year for ocean science and we’re looking forward to helping other oceanographers continue their research, even if they’re unable to sail this year,” said Chief Scientist Brendan Philip.

[media-caption type="image" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/FACT_Cage-scaled.jpg" link="#"]Manipulators on the ROV Jason work on a small frame located ~ 200 m beneath the oceans’s surface, which is encrusted in beautiful feathery creatures called crinoids. Credit: UW/NSF-OOI/WHOI[/media-caption]

The Daily Grind

The daily schedule aboard the R/V Thompson promises to be intense, exacerbated by a smaller than normal scientific party due to COVID-19 precautions.  “Science teams, when using Jason, tend to keep the vehicle down for a long time, but because the tempo of this cruise is more like an industry cruise, the team will be diving and recovering the vehicle as rapidly as safely possible, sometimes with only a couple hours on deck between dives. It can be exhausting work, particularly for a team that will be onboard for a month,” explained Deb Kelley, RCA Director and principal investigator.  “But, being out at sea, seeing the sites and miles of ocean reaching the horizon, and working on this state-of-the-art marine facility makes it all worthwhile.” This year, for the first time, Kelley will be intently observing operations from onshore through the live video stream.

COVID Prevention

A reality in the new COVID-19 world is that the team can only mobilize gear onboard the ship after completing a strict quarantine period. Two weeks prior to boarding, members of the scientific party have lived in their homes (with all family members in quarantine for the duration), hotels or Airbnbs. Team members were tested for COVID prior to entering quarantine and conducted twice day temperature checks during their quarantine. Testing occurred again before being allowed to board the Thompson.

This expedition is novel in another way as a result of COVID precautions.  Only two students will be onboard.  Prior cruises have had 8-10 VISIONS students on each leg to help out and experience firsthand what it’s like to go to sea.  “We are hoping that many students and others tune in to experience this amazing environment that Jason will be revealing over the next month. It’s really an opportunity to visit some of the most extreme environments on Earth and see incredible life forms that has adapted to these harsh environments, which may be particularly uplifting to our spirits now that many folks are stuck at home,” said Kelley.

Livestreaming video will be available here and at InteractiveOceans.

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Global carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are increasing in the atmosphere, largely due to the use of fossil fuels. The oceans are absorbing about 25-30 percent of the atmospheric CO2, resulting in a shift in seawater acid-base chemistry and a decrease in ocean pH, making seawater more acidic. To help scientists assess this changing ocean chemistry, the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) uses the Sunburst SAMI-CO2 instrument to measure the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) from 150-700 microatmospheres (μatm) in the upper 200 meters of the water column.

The distribution of pCO2 in seawater is dependent on gas exchange with the atmosphere at the ocean surface, the breakdown of plant material by microbial processes, and removal by photosynthesis, calcium carbonate formation, and rising temperatures. Increases in pCO2 can also be caused by dissolution of calcium carbonate, which is of particular importance because calcium carbonate minerals are the building blocks for the skeletons and shells of many marine organisms, such as oysters.

Using the SAMI-CO2 instrument, OOI researchers determine the partial pressure of CO2 by equilibrating a pH sensitive indicator solution (Bromothymol Blue) to sampled seawater. Aqueous carbon dioxide in seawater diffuses across a permeable silicone membrane equilibrator within the instrument, which changes the color of the indicator solution from blue to yellow. The equilibrated indicator solution is then pumped through a chamber where light passes through the liquid and into a receptor that uses the wavelength to determine the amount of color change, and thus the amount of CO2 dissolved in the water.

“The OOI system parses the raw data from the instrument, applies a ‘blank’ value to correct for instrument drift, and then delivers calibrated pCO2 data to users on demand,” explained Michael Vardaro, OOI Research Scientist at the University of Washington. “We recently created a fix to apply the correct ’blank’ values to the pCO2 data to improve data accessibility and data quality.”

Blank values (e.g., optical absorbance ratios in the pco2w_b_sami_data_record_cal data stream) are used to calculate the data product “pCO2 Seawater (µatm)” at a specific timestamp. Blank values, however, are recorded intermittently to correct for drift of the electro-optical system, about once a week, which is a longer interval than the instrument sampling rate of one sample per hour.

The recent correction will ensure that any pCO2 data request will use a linearly interpolated value from the closest blanks if no blank value is found within the requested time range. This means that for an hourly pCO2 measurement that falls between weekly blank values the system will calculate the appropriate drift correction to apply based on the surrounding blank values, instead of trying to find a specific blank value that might be outside the date range of the requested data. In addition to improving data quality, this fix prevents the system from returning fill values or empty datasets. Additional restrictions were put on data delivery to prevent interpolation across deployments, which could pull blanks from different instrument serial numbers, potentially creating bad data. These fixes apply to all OOI pCO2 data.  Users who have pCO2 data products generated prior to 4 February 2020 are encouraged to re-request their data to ensure that the correct interpolation code is applied.

Any questions about this data fix, or any other OOI data issues, should be directed to help@oceanobservatories.org.





Top: Alex Andronikides, a VISIONS’17 student from Queens College, New York helps clean a Regional Cabled Observatory Shallow Profiler Mooring science pod that was installed off the Washington-Oregon coast. Credit: M. Elend, University of Washington, V17.

Bottom: Pre-deployment photo of a Sunburst SAMI-CO2 sensor attached to the Oregon Offshore Cabled Shallow Profiler pod, which moves up and down in the water column between 200 meters and near the surface off the coast of Newport, OR. Credit: M. Elend, University of Washington, V19.

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Sound is omnipresent in the ocean. Human-induced noise has the potential to affect marine life.

After the global recession in 2008, the ocean became quieter as shipping declined. Off the coast of Southern California, for example, scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography found that noise amplitudes measured from 2007-2010 were lowered by 70 percent with a reduction in one ship contributing about 10 percent.

A similar quieting of the ocean can be expected as global ship traffic continues its decline in response to the corona virus pandemic. This quieter ocean offers scientists ways to expand their ongoing research on ocean sound and its impact on marine life.

[media type="image" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Finhval_1.jpg" link="#" alt="Fin Whale"][/media]

“It takes time to document real change in the ocean, but University of Washington oceanographers have reported that over the past decade, fin whales have been communicating more softly in the Pacific,“ said Deborah Kelley, professor of oceanography at the University of Washington and director of the OOI’s Regional Cabled Array (RCA) component. “A quieter ocean allows us to hear more clearly life and other natural processes within the ocean.”

Years of listening to whales

John Ryan, a biological oceanographer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), has been “listening in” on whales and other marine creatures since 2015 using a hydrophone on the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS), a cabled observatory, which was in part established as a test bed for the OOI Regional Cabled Array. Ryan and colleagues studied the occurrence of humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) song in the northeast Pacific using three years of continuous recordings off the coast of central California.

[media type="image" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Humpback_Whale_underwater_shot.jpg" link="#" alt="Humpback Whale"][/media]

“We’ve been listening almost continuously since July 28, 2015, using a broadband, digital, omnidirectional hydrophone connected to MARS. Listening continuously for that long at such a high sample rate is not easy; only by being connected to the cable is this possible,” explained Ryan.

The researchers were able to discern whale songs from the busy ocean soundscape in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which is a feeding and migratory habitat for humpback whales. The humpbacks’ song was detectable for nine months of the year (September–May) and peaked during the winter months of November through January. The study revealed strong relationships between year-to-year changes in the levels of song occurrence and ecosystem conditions that influence foraging ecology. The lowest song occurrence coincided with anomalous warm ocean temperatures, low abundances of krill – a primary food resource for humpback whales, and an extremely toxic harmful algal bloom that affected whales and other marine mammals in the region. Song occurrence increased with increasingly favorable foraging conditions in subsequent years.

Because the hydrophone is on the cabled observatory, its operation can be adjusted to achieve new goals.  For example, the sampling rate of the hydrophone was doubled during an experiment that successfully detected very high frequency echolocation clicks of dwarf sperm whales (with Karlina Merkens, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).  “And that’s a beautiful aspect of being on the cable,” added Ryan. “Not only do we know that it is working, we catch any network glitches pretty quickly so we don’t lose data, and we can do real-time experiments like these.”

William Wilcock of the University of Washington and his students have compiled a decade worth of data on fin whales in the northern Pacific. Fin whales call at about 20 HZ, which is too low of a frequency for humans to hear, but perfect for seismometers to record. The researchers aggregated ten years of data from both temporary recorders and now permanent RCA hydrophones and seismic sensors and looked at the frequency of the calls and calling intervals. The researchers found both have changed over time.

The fin whales call seasonally and the frequency of the calls has gone down with time.

[audio mp3="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Fin_whale_10x.mp3"][/audio]

Calls peak in late fall, early winter in relation to mating season. Gradually through the season the frequency decreases.  At the start of the next season, the call frequency jumps up again, but not quite to where it was the year before. Over ten years, the frequency has gone down about 2 HZ, and scientists are puzzled as to why this is occurring. It is unlikely to be due to increasing ship noise, because this lower sound frequency is getting closer to the range of the noise level of container ship propellers, about 6-10 HZ.

In some settings, ship noise is known to affect whale behavior and the permanent network of hydrophones operated by the OOI and Ocean Networks Canada will provide an opportunity to study whether whales are avoiding the shipping lanes to Asia.

Volcanoes also rumble in the deep

Whale sounds are but one of many acoustic signals being recorded and monitored using hydrophones and broadband seismometers. The OOI’s RCA off the Oregon Coast includes 900 kilometers (~560 miles) of submarine fiber-optic cables that provide unprecedented power, bandwidth, and communication to seafloor instrumentation and profiler moorings that span water depths of 2900 m to 5 m beneath the ocean surface. Using a suite of instruments connected to the cable, which continuously stream data in real time, scientists are listening in on the sounds of submarine volcanism, which accounts for more than 80 percent of all volcanism on Earth.

More than 300 miles off the Oregon coast in 1500 meters of water, 20+ cabled seafloor instruments are located at the summit of Axial Seamount, the most active volcano on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, including hydrophones and seismometers, which can also record sounds in the ocean.

“Scientists were able to hear(as acoustic noises traveling through the crust) >8000 earthquakes that marked the start of the Axial eruption in 2015. Coincident with this seismic crisis bottom pressure tilt instruments showed that the seafloor fell about 2.4 meters (~8 feet).

[video width="670" height="384" m4v="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Axial-seamount-audio-.m4v"][/video]

It was a remarkable collaborative event with scientists from across the country witnessing the eruption unfold live,” added Kelley. Such real-time documenting of an eruption in process was possible because of how Axial is wired. It is the only place in the oceans where numerous processes taking place prior to, during, and following a submarine eruption are captured live through data streaming 24/7. William Wilcock, University of Washington, and Scott Nooner, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and colleagues reported these findings in Science, 2016.

Data collected from the hydrophones at the seamount’s base supported another discovery about Axial, indicating that it explosively erupted in 2015. Hydrophones recorded long-duration diffusive signals traveling through the ocean water consistent with explosion of gas-rich lavas, similar to Hawaiian style fissure eruptions.  Follow-on cruises documented ash on some RCA instruments, again indicating the likelihood of explosive events during the 2015 eruption.

“Having the opportunity to listen in while a submarine volcano is active offers a really interesting window into things,” said Jackie Caplan-Auerbach, associate dean at Western Washington University and lead author of a G-cubed article that reported the possible eruptive findings. “While we cannot say with utter certainty that there were explosions at Axial, there’s a lot of evidence that supports this. We know from having listened to other eruptions that this was the same type of sound. It’s distinct, like the hissing sound of a garden hose on at top speed. We also found these really fine particulates, which could only have resulted from an eruption, had collected on one of the instruments at the site.”

[audio wav="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/axial_explosive.wav"][/audio]

Added Caplan-Auerbach, “My favorite part of having OOI is it offers an ability for pure discovery. Its real time nature makes it possible to observe and see what happens.  And sometimes the planet just hands you a gift that you didn’t expect.  Not always being hypothesis driven is a very valuable aspect of science that I hope does not get lost. I’m very appreciative of projects like this that open our eyes into signals that we didn’t know were there.”

More opportunities to expand knowledge about sound and the sea are on the horizon.  The US. Navy has funded Shima Abadi, University of Washington, Bothell, for a comprehensive study of sounds recorded by the OOI hydrophones.  Stay tuned!


Image credits: Top fin whale: Wikipedia, Aqqa Rosing-Asvid – Visit Greenland. Second from top: humpback whale: Public domain, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 


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[media-caption type="image" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/COntrol-room_jason-Tubeworms.jpg" link="#"]From inside the Jason control van, images of the active >270°C hydrothermal edifice “Inferno” showing a beautiful tubeworm bush – the bright red plumes indicate that these worms are “happy and healthy”. UW/NSF-OOI/WHOI: V19.[/media-caption]

This summer’s Regional Cabled Array (RCA) 44-day expedition (May 30-July 12, 2019) onboard the R/V Atlantis was highly successful with the completion of all tasks scheduled for this annual maintenance and operations cruise. One hundred forty-nine out of 151 RCA Core and PI instruments are operational, all three instrumented Deep Profiler vehicles and instrumented Science Pods on the Shallow Profiler Moorings are conducting daily traverses through the water column, and 113 RCA instruments were installed. It was wonderful to once again see the beautiful life inhabiting the hydrothermal vents at Axial Seamount, amazing aggregations of cod curious about our work at the Oregon Offshore site, and to witness the profound changes that have taken place again at the methane seeps at Southern Hydrate Ridge.

During the 53 days of staging and demobing for the cruise over the four legs 166 tons of RCA equipment were transported to/from Seattle, WA and Newport, OR. Onboard staffing included 52 personnel with 13 students, six non-OOI PI’s-technicians from four institutions and one member from industry. In addition, Susan Casey, a New York Times bestselling author (i.e. The WAVE, the Devils Teeth, and Voices of the Ocean) participated on Leg 4. As part of the NSF Oceans Month, a 1-hour “Science in the Deep” Facebook live interactive broadcast was conducted, including live streaming of imagery from Jason working at Southern Hydrate Ridge and a period for questions and answers. There were 58 Jason Dives, with a record setting 20 dives in five days including deep dives to 2600 m and 2900 m water depths. The vehicle worked extremely well with turn-arounds commonly less than one hour.

Another big success for this summer occurred during nine days of at-sea operations dedicated to turning and installation of  cabled and uncabled instrumentation and field work provided to externally-funded researchers. This work included the:

  • Installation of an NSF-funded new high resolution, self-calibrating pressures sensor at Central Caldera, Axial Seamount (W. Wilcock, University of Washington).
  • The recovery, repair and reinstallation of the NSF-funded COVIS multibeam sonar for hydrothermal plume imaging at the ASHES hydrothermal field, as well as installation of a thermistor array (K. Bemis, Rutgers University); Bemis also conducted a several hour thermal and video survey of the field.
  • The turning of an NSF-funded CTD at the ASHES hydrothermal field, Axial Seamount (W. Chadwick, Oregon State University). Note Chadwick received a new NSF award to expand the CTD network to monitor the release of subsurface brines associated with eruptions at Axial as observed during the 2015 eruption (see Xu et al., 2018).
  • The recovery of an ONR-funded uncabled Benthic Observatory Platform (BOP) from the Oregon Offshore site and installation of another BOP at a seep site at Southern Hydrate Ridge (C. Reimers-Oregon State University and P. Girguis-Harvard University) and associated sediment sampling; and
  • The recovery, repair, and reinstallation of a University of Bremen-Germany-funded cabled overview multibeam sonar for imaging of all methane plumes at Southern Hydrate Ridge (G. Bohrmann and Y. Marcon -University of Bremen) – the range of this sonar is now extended from 200 m to 700 m. A new 4K video-still camera was also installed near Einsteins’ Grotto.

The RCA engineering and science team is enjoying being on land after conducting round the clock operations to insure that the facility work was completed on schedule. Folks are enjoying the Seattle sun and the Cascades and Olympic mountains during the summer blue-skied days. Soon however, our thoughts, will be turning to refurbishment and planning for next years cruise. The team is looking forward to working with the VISIONS19 students on their projects this upcoming academic year; we are excited to see the stories they tell with new eyes focusing on the oceans, the RCA, and OOI.

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NOTE: Video of this event available here. Fast forward to about 52:00 to get past the distorted audio.

The National Science Foundation will host “Science in the Deep,” a Facebook Live event with researchers aboard R/V Atlantis on Wednesday, June 26, from 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern. The Atlantis team will be off the coast of Oregon servicing parts of the Ocean Observatories Initiative Regional Cabled Array using the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason, which is expected to be 800 meters deep at Southern Hydrate Ridge, where methane bubbles from the seafloor and life flourishes.

Join NSF host Deena Headley as she speaks with OOI Research Scientist Michael Vardaro and Research Scientist/Eng2 Katie Bigham, both from the University of Washington, about their work on the recent cruises off the U.S. Northwest Coast, live views from Jason on the seafloor, and life at sea.

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[media-caption type="image" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/BEP_JasonV18-1080.jpg" link="#"]ROV Jason is launched at the Oregon Offshore site during the 2019 NSF-funded OOI Cabled Array expedition during Visions2018 with the Benthic Experiment Package attached beneath the vehicle. Photo by M. Elend, University of Washington[/media-caption]

This summer’s exciting sea-going expedition in the Northeast Pacific to maintain the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatories Initiative Regional Cabled Observatory is underway, and you can join us at InteractiveOceans.

Over the next several weeks, the University of Washington Cabled Array team will be adding novel sensors that allow a global audience to watch live the daily deformation and seismic activity at the largest underwater volcano off our coast, Axial Seamount. Axial erupted in 2015 and is poised to do so again. In addition, we will be adding new instruments, including a 4K video camera aimed at a highly dynamic methane seep site off Newport, Oregon, called Southern Hydrate Ridge, where streams of bubbles issue from the seafloor daily.

[media-caption type="image" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/AtlantisBackdeck_1_small-1080.jpg" link="#"]R/V Atlantis steams back to shore after Leg 1 of the 2019 Regional Cabled Array cruise, following the successful installation of the Shallow Profiler Mooring at Axial Base. Photo by J. Tilley, University of Washington[/media-caption]

The cruise, which departed June 2 and continues until July 12, is using the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason onboard the R/V Atlantis operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Nineteen U.S. and international undergraduate students are working side-by-side scientists, engineers, ROV team, and ship’s crew on the expedition as part of the UW experiential at-sea VISIONS program.

This expedition is highly complex with a diverse array of more than100 instruments, junction boxes, and instrumented pods on the Shallow Profiler Moorings that will be recovered, installed, and tested. R/V Atlantis will be “packed to the gills” on each of the four legs that make up this expedition, carrying everything from state-of-the-art mooring components to sharpies.

Starting around June 12 or 13, you will be able to watch our underwater operations live through streaming video as ROV Jason works more than 300 miles offshore and 5,000 feet below the surface down at the summit of Axial Seamount, which hosts 350°C (660°F) deep-sea hot springs that support some of the most bizarre creatures on Earth. We will also be 250 miles off Newport in depths ranging from 250 feet to 10,000 feet in some of the most biologically productive waters in the world and at sedimented sites on the Cascadia margin where methane-rich plumes jet from the seafloor. There, methane seeps support dense bacterial mats and large clams that thrive in the absence of sunlight on gases pouring from the seafloor.

A 4K camera funded by the University of Bremen will provide real-time views of the methane plumes and seafloor life to document this incredibly dynamic environment marked by large explosion pits and collapse basins. This is the second year of this international collaboration that expands the capability of the Regional Cabled Array and provides new imagery of these dynamic systems for all to see.

An enhanced, high-bandwidth satellite connection from R/V Atlantis will allow you to experience our deep-sea operations through daily live video streams. It will also allow onboard engineers and scientists to see data for the first time as new instruments are connected to the seafloor submarine fiber optic cables that bring the global Internet into the oceans. So tune in and see what we see when we see it.

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