The NEPTUNE Canada program and the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) will be the world's largest cable-linked seafloor observatories. These observatories are associated with the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, one of the major plates that make up the surface of the earth.
The purpose of NEPTUNE Canada is to "study, monitor and observe the deep ocean off the west coast of British Columbia in real time", and to "deepen current knowledge of geology, marine life, oceanic processes and atmospheric and human influences on these systems".
NEPTUNE Canada has completed the lay of an 800 kilometer ring of powered fiber-optic cable on the seabed on the northern part of the Juan de Fuca plate and will connect five seafloor 'laboratories' or nodes - shown as yellow boxes on the map below.
Each node will consist of an array of instruments that collect a range of biological and physical data. The nodes also will recieve power from the shore station located in Port Alberni via the fibre optic cable, and supply power to the instruments and other nodes.
Endeavour Ridge, Folger Passage, and Barkley Canyon, are three of the five seafloor nodes connected to the fiber-optic ring.
click on the site name for details of each node
Image credit: OOI Regional Scale Nodes Program at the University of Washington
The Regional Scale Nodes component of NSF’s Ocean Observatories Initiative is in the developmental stages, and will run from shore landings on the Oregon coast to experimental sites (orange boxes) located in areas of highest scientific interest.
The major research themes of the NEPTUNE Canada Project are:
- Earthquakes and plate tectonics
- Fluid flow in the sea bed
- Marine life and climate change
- Deep sea ecosystmes
- Engineering and data management
Information and images gathered by the instruments at each node will flow instantly and continuously via the Internet to a shore stations in Port Alberni, British Columbia, and on the Oregon coast. Land-based scientists will be able to control and monitor sampling instruments, video cameras and ROV's, and respond to events such as storms, plankton blooms, fish migrations, earthquakes and tsunamis as they happen.
Deep Sea Laboratory #1: Endeavour Ridge Marine Protected Area