Canada is now at the forefront of undersea research as the world’s largest and most advanced undersea observatory project was launched Friday in the western pacific province of British Columbia.
Neptune Canada, a $100 million project led by the University of Victoria, will provide monitoring facilities of the ocean events as they happen.
>The 100-million-dollar Neptune Canada project will make it possible for life beneath the ocean to go live on the Internet, giving people an unprecedented experience. Led by the University of Victoria (UVic), it will provide 25 years of long-term monitoring of ocean events as they occur >.
“At a time when our understanding of the oceans is clearly becoming more essential than ever, Neptune Canada will play a leadership role in advancing our knowledge of the oceans in ways not previously possible,” Dr. David Turpin, UVic president, said in a statement.
The 13-ton module-like structure will be lowered at the depth of 2.6 kilometers to the ocean floor off the coast of Vancouver Island. It will carry hundreds of observation instruments to allow researchers from around the world to do deep sea research.
Neptune Canada has been developed with the assistance of Alcatel-Lucent, Canadian company known for developing submarine cables.
NEPTUNE is an acronym for North-East Pacific Time-series Undersea Networked Experiments. The North-East Pacific is home to the Juan de Fuca plate—smallest of Earth’s 12 tectonic plates. Its small size and close proximity to the coast gives NEPTUNE Canada a unique opportunity to observe tectonic processes. NEPTUNE Canada is built to provide continuous observations for 25 years. The time-series data gathered will allow scientists to study long-term changes over the life of the project. Instruments comprising the undersea observatory will operate at depths ranging from 17 to 2,660 m. Hundreds of instruments will be connected to the Internet by way of shielded cables carrying both power and fibre-optic communication lines. A database will archive and provide networked access to all archived data. Taking advantage of this platform, scientists collaborating with NEPTUNE are expected conduct thousands of unique experiments over the life of the project.