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Researchers sailing to underwater earthquake swarm site off coastal B.C.

Ocean Exploration Trust expedition to Juan De Fuca Ridge to last 3 weeks and be live-streamed

In March 2024, over 200 earthquakes an hour rattled the Juan de Fuca Ridge of the coast of Vancouver Island.

The B.C. Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) exploration ship Nautilus is going to visit the site for the first time to take a closer look.

“We’re about to embark on the annual maintenance trip of our North-East Pacific Time Undersea Networked Experiment (NEPTUNE) Endeavour observatory,” said Meghan Paulson, Ocean Network Canada (ONC) expedition lead. “This is an ocean observatory, where we have 100-kilometre loop power and fibre optic cable off the coast of Vancouver Island.”

The Nautilus will be at sea for 21 days after disembarking from the Canadian Coast Guard docks in North Saanich on June 6. The ship will boast a crew of over 50, including scientists, marine technicians, engineers, and science communicators, and there will be little downtime when out at sea.

“There is 24-hour monitoring on an expedition like this, so we want to make every second count,” said Allison Fundis, chief operating officer, OET. “So we run people through different watch teams, and there’s always somebody on watch.”

The voyage to the Juan de Fuca Ridge will involve maintaining equipment over 2km underwater. The Nautilus will launch remotely operated vehicles, Hercules and Atalanta, that will maintain NEPTUNES’ plethora of sensors, cameras, and instruments at the bottom of the ocean.

“One of the reasons is that the instrument just flat out died, it’s not working at all anymore. So that would be a full swap of the instrument,” Paulson said.

The trip to the ridge will mark the eighth time OET and ONC have collaborated.

“Our collaboration allows us to combine our expertise and technologies to tackle challenging operations associated with the maintenance of ONC’s world-leading subsea cabled observatory and to broadly share our work and discoveries with those joining us from shore,” Fundis said.

A 24-hour live stream will allow viewers to ask the various crew and scientists questions.

Allison Fundis said the visit will be the eighth time Ocean Exploration Trust and Ocean Networks Canada have partnered. (News Staff/ Thomas Eley)

About the Author: Thomas Eley

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