NEPTUNE Canada, the world’s largest cabled ocean observatory is nearing completion and is expected to be operational by September. This regional seafloor observatory is a project of Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), a not-for-profit society created by the University of Victoria. ONC aims to build and sustain Canada’s world leadership in ocean science and technology.
Some interesting features of NEPTUNE Canada are:
- Acronym for: North East Pacific Time-Series Undersea Network Experiments.
- The underwater seafloor observatory is coming up, off the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
- This regional-scale underwater ocean observatory provides an opportunity to surf the seafloor through internet.
- Ocean scientists across the world, will be able to run offshore and deep-sea experiments and receive real-time data without leaving their laboratories and universities.
- The network, which extends across the Juan de Fuca plate, will gather live data from the seafloor instruments deployed in a broad spectrum of undersea environments.
- Data will be transmitted via high-speed fibre optic communications from the seafloor to an innovative data archival system at the University of Victoria.
- This system will provide free Internet access to an immense wealth of data, both live and archived throughout the life of the observatory.
- To remain operational for a minimum period of 25 years.
- useful for broad studies on seismic and tsunami activity, ocean-climate interactions and their effects on fisheries, gas hydrate deposits, and seafloor ecology.
- will also promote new developments in marine underwater technology: fibre-optic communications, power systems design, data management, and sensors and robotics.
- The University of Victoria, signed a contract with Alcatel to design, manufacture and install the infrastructure for NEPTUNE Canada’s cabled ocean observatory in October 2005.
- Cost: more than $100 million.
The system components:
- University of Victoria: a 10 gigabit per second line connects the Port Alberni shore station to NEPTUNE Canada’s processing and Data Management and Archive System (DMAS) facilities at the University of Victoria.
- Shore station:
- Port Alberni is the shore station where power and communications connections are made between the land sea portions of the network.
- Shore station supplies 10,000 volts at 8 amperes to the network.
- Backbone cable:
- 800 km long backbone cable laying as a loop was completed in November 2007.
- Carries both power and fibre optic communications bi-directionally across the network.
- Backbone is designed to carry 100 kw of DC power.Different grades of armoured submarine cable are laid in the seafloor depending on the seafloor conditions.
- Also known as optical amplifiers.
- They are installed at a distance of approximately 60 km in the network, to boost the optical signal to prevent data loss.
- Branching units:
- Have integral optical amplifiers to distribute power and communications from the backbone to spur cables connecting to network nodes.
- Ensure bi-directional communication in the network, even if the optical fibre cable is damaged somewhere in the backbone loop.
- Each node communicates through the optical network using its own dedicated wavelength of light.
- Also convert power from an incoming 10 kv to 400 volts for supply to as many as 6 junction boxes.
- Nodes are protected by Trawl Resistant Frames (TRF), from trawl damage.
- TRFs have access doors for ROPOS (Remotely Operated Platform for Ocean Science) to connect the nodes to junction boxes via extension cables underwater.
- Each node as a whole unit weighs about 13 tonnes.
- Junction boxes:
- Provide power (15 volts, 24 volts or 48 volts) and communications to instruments.
- Up to 10 science interfaces can be connected to each junction box.
- Can be cascaded.
- About 400 instruments at a depth of 2.6 km are being positioned in seafloor: from simple temperature probes to complex multi instrument vertical profiling systems and remotely operated vehicles equipped with lights,camera,probes and chemical analysis units.
- Instruments are specially designed to withstand intense pressure and the cold, corrosive salt-water environment of the North Pacific.
View some video clips:
About NEPTUNE Canada:
- read more from University of Victoria, World’s largest ocean observatory nears completion.
- view photographs from University of Victoria.
- from Ocean Networks Canada as pdf.
For more details, log on to NEPTUNE Canada.
Image credit: NEPTUNE Canada
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