Program Update: Ocean Observatories Initiative – February 2011
The OOI Project took a significant step forward in February beginning installation of the power and data undersea cable at Pacific City, Oregon, for the cabled component of the OOI that ultimately will link scientists and others in the OOI user community to data streaming from observing sensors in the ocean.
This work is a significant step forward in development in the OOI Project to build a fully integrated system collecting data on coastal, regional and global scales. The Regional Scale Nodes network of ocean observing sensors in the Northeast Pacific Ocean will be interconnected with approximately 500 miles of electro-optical cable and designed to operate continuously for 25 years.
Each primary instrumented site will be provided with 10 gigabits per second of telecommunications bandwidth and 10 kilowatts of power. Data will be collected from the sea surface to the seafloor and transmitted to shore in near-real time via the Internet.
The first step in the installation process involved drilling a small conduit (~0.2 m in diameter) under the beach to an offshore location (~0.9 miles seaward) at Pacific City. The cable will pass through existing conduits from the beach to an onshore power station. Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is a common technique used to install cables, pipelines, fiber-optic ducts and other types of buried infrastructure under environmentally sensitive areas or technically difficult sites. A major advantage of HDD is the considerable reduction of impacts that are generally associated with surface (trench) installations.
The HDD operations, which started on February 7, are slated to take place over 60 to 80 days. Primary cable installation is slated to begin this summer.
The University of Washington has contracted with L3 Maripro Inc. (L3) for the design and build of the OOI RSN primary infrastructure. L3, a company based in Goleta, California, is a leading provider of undersea cabled sensor systems and through-water communications for undersea defense, hydro-acoustic monitoring and ocean science applications.
HDD operations at Pacific City have been subcontracted to The HDD Company, also based in California. Throughout the HDD operations, representatives of both L3 and the University of Washington will be continuously on site to monitor working conditions and to ensure that the best level of performance and safety standards are achieved.
The OOI Program is managed and coordinated by the OOI Project Office at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in Washington, D.C., and is responsible for the construction and initial operation of the OOI network. Three implementing organizations are responsible for construction and development of the overall program. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and its partners, Oregon State University and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, are responsible for the coastal and global moorings and their autonomous vehicles. The University of Washington is responsible for cabled seafloor systems and moorings. The University of California, San Diego, is implementing the cyberinfrastructure component.
Over the upcoming months, work will continue at Pacific City. In addition, the program will be announcing a number of new contract awards and continue to move forward with development and test efforts for the overall infrastructure.
In other news, the the OOI Program and NSF selected Sea-Bird Electronics, Inc., of Bellevue, Washington, to provide Conductivity, Temperature and Depth (CTD) instruments for OOI.
Under a $3 million, three-year contract with an additional one-year option, Sea-Bird Electronics will provide the CTD instruments necessary to support the scientific measurement objectives of the OOI. The CTD instruments are critical to the OOI network’s objective of measuring temperature, conductivity and pressure from which salinity and density of ocean water can be calculated. Designed to function as a fully integrated system, OOI will collect data on coastal, regional and global scales.