The Cyber Sea: World's Largest Internet Undersea Science Station Boots Up [Slide Show]
NEPTUNE Canada, the world's largest regional cabled undersea network, promises to usher in a new era of ocean science when it goes online December 8*
Credits: Photo taken by ROPOS[[http://ropos.com]], which is operated by the Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility.
SQUID BAIT As ROPOS descended to the depths of Barkley Canyon during the installation of "Barkley Benthic Pod 1," a curious squid came to investigate the odd newcomer to its waters.
NATURAL SUPERVISION Curious sea creatures frequently came to inspect the network's installation work. Here, a rat-tail fish supervises the installation of a seismometer at the node ODP 1027, which sits at a depth of 2,660 meters.
ROVER OPERATION Here, ROPOS pilots Keith Tamburri and Ian Murdock consult their 11 operation screens and discuss various strategies for installing the "Barkley Benthic Pod 1" which lies 984 meters below the surface.
ROPOS ROPOS, Canada's deep-sea research remotely operated vehicle, lent a helping hand (or to be precise, two of them, named "yin" and "yang") in much of the network's deep-sea installation work.
BENTHIC CRAWLER Meet Wally the Benthic Crawler, the world's first Internet-operated deep-sea crawler (here astride a gas hydrate outcrop in Barkley Canyon). Wally was designed by ocean scientists at Jacobs University Bremen in Germany to measure conditions such as temperature, salinity, methane content and sediment characteristics at seafloor depth. "It's designed to go along the outcrop of the different mounds and biotas associated with the gas hydrates," Barnes says.
Photo taken by ROPOS[[http://ropos.com]], which is operated by the Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility.
IN THE DRINK The Vertical Profiler System's various instruments will monitor salinity, temperature, dissolved gases and nutrients, ocean currents, plankton and fish concentrations as well as marine mammal movements as it travels through the water column. Here it is resting on the ocean floor at its parking spot near the head of Barkley Canyon, at a depth of 396 meters.
NEPTUNE Canada/NGK Ocean
VERTICAL PROFILER The Vertical Profiler System was specially designed and built for NEPTUNE Canada by NGK Ocean in Japan. The profiler's "instrument package," which contains 10 different devices, is tethered to a seafloor platform and will monitor the water column as it travels from the ocean floor to the water surface, 400 meters above.
ANTI-TRAWL: A crane on Alcatel–Lucent's cable-laying ship, the
C/S Lodbrog, lifts a trawl-resistant frame slated for installation in Middle Valley. NEPTUNE Canada Advertisement
NETWORK NODES NEPTUNE Project Director Chris Barnes stands inside the frame of one of the network's "nodes". The 6.5–metric ton, yellow frame protects the gear inside from trawlers. "Think of them like large power transformers," Barnes says. Another six nodes will be installed over the network's 25-year life expectancy.
ARNOLD LIM, Arnold Lim Photography
NEPTUNE'S MAP The NEPTUNE Network spans a diverse slice of Pacific Ocean floor, which will help scientists understand Earth's oceanic processes. The cable loops around from the west coast of Vancouver Island, across the continental shelf, onto the abyssal plain and out to active volcanic ridge spreading centers where new ocean crust is formed. Branching off this cable are five "nodes" that operate as input hubs, into which data from various sensors and instruments are fed.
ILE DE SEINE Alcatel–Lucent's cable-laying ship, the
Ile de Seine, began putting NEPTUNE Canada's cable in place in summer 2007 [ above]. The massive backbone of the network is an 800-kilometer-long fiber-optic cable that encircles the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, which sits just off the coast of Vancouver Island. NEPTUNE Canada Advertisement