The R/V Thompson at dock in Newport, Oregon.
University of Washington
The R/V Thompson at the dock in Newport, Oregon, at the end of the NSF-funded Regional Cabled Array cruise in 2021.

The University of Washington’s large research vessel, the R/V Thomas G. Thompson, will embark Aug. 13 from Newport, Oregon. A team of dozens of UW students, researchers and engineers will visit sites hosting a unique, National Science Foundation-funded, underwater observatory.

For almost six weeks the team will send a remotely operated vehicle, ROV Jason, to recover and deploy more than 100 instruments as far as 2 miles below the ocean’s surface, all connected to a cable that supplies power and internet connectivity. Team members will work around the clock to make the most of precious ship time and complete their tasks in the calmer summer conditions.

Deborah Kelley, a UW professor of oceanography, is the principal investigator and chief scientist for two of the expedition’s four legs. Kelley has been involved with the cabled observatory since its inception more than a decade ago. UW News asked her about this summer’s cruise as part of a new series, “In the Field,” highlighting UW field research.

Where are you going, and when?

Deborah Kelley: We’re visiting all the main sites on the Regional Cabled Array, a submarine fiber-optic cabled observatory off the coast of Oregon spanning depths of 260 feet (80 meters) to 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers). We’ll visit the Cascadia margin, hosting some of the most biologically productive waters in the ocean, and a highly dynamic methane seep site where methane is crystallized like ice, and issues as gas from the seafloor.

We’re also going to work at the base of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, one of the few places with seismometers on both the subducting oceanic plate and the North American continental plate. Then we go to Axial Seamount, the most active underwater volcano off our coast. We’ll work at the base of the seamount, at 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers) depth, and also install instruments in the summit caldera.

The entire cruise will be 41 days, loading Aug. 11, leaving shore Aug. 13 and finishing Sept. 20, divided into four legs with crew changes in Newport.

Read more at UW News »