Plugged In: Novel Sensor Development by External Researchers for Deployment on the Ocean Observatories Initiative Regional Cabled Array

Michael Vardaro1, Orest Eduard Kawka2, Wendi Ruef2 and Deborah S Kelley3, (1)University of Washington Seattle Campus, Oceanography, Seattle, WA, United States, (2)University of Washington, School of Oceanography, Seattle, WA, United States, (3)University of Washington Seattle Campus, School of Oceanography, Seattle, WA, United States
The NSF Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Regional Cabled Array (RCA), hosting >140 instruments, provides a continuous stream of open-access, real-time data, allowing interdisciplinary observation of processes spanning the Cascadia Margin off Oregon to Axial Seamount, located ~300 miles offshore. Cabled profiler moorings enable key insights into shallow-water environments, shelf-slope interactions with the deep sea, and variations in North Pacific circulation over gyre scales. Seafloor infrastructure on Southern Hydrate Ridge examines the effects of seismic events on methane seep systems, biogeochemical coupling, and gas fluxes associated with hydrate formation and dissolution. Axial Summit, the most active volcano on the Juan de Fuca ridge, hosts a diverse array of geophysical, chemical, and biological sensors that record seismic activity, fluid flow, and biological activity across numerous hydrothermal fields and diffuse flow sites.

One of the most exciting aspects of the OOI RCA network is its expansion over the past three years to include myriad sensors from externally funded researchers. New instruments currently deployed at RCA sites include multiple NSF-funded high-resolution, self-calibrating pressure sensors at Axial Central Caldera, the NSF-funded COVIS multibeam sonar for hydrothermal plume imaging at the ASHES hydrothermal field, an ONR-funded uncabled Benthic Observatory Platform (BOP) at a seep site at Southern Hydrate Ridge, a University of Bremen-funded cabled overview multibeam sonar for imaging of all methane plumes at Southern Hydrate Ridge and a 4K video-still camera installed near Einsteins’ Grotto. Future installations include the NASA InVADER exobiology project that includes an array of laser spectroscopic instruments and stereo optical imaging of a hydrothermal chimney. Resident AUV and benthic rover installations are also planned to conduct repeat video and chemical surveys and event-driven sampling at dynamic seep and vent areas. NSF encourages proposals for new cabled and cable-adjacent experiments, as well as the use of OOI data.