Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Marine Geophysicists Probe Sea Floor

Date:
April 20, 2007
Source:
University Of Toronto
Summary:
Marine geophysics are creating the largest cable-linked sea floor observatory on the Pacific Ocean floor. Located in the northeast Pacific off the coasts of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, the active Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is one of the smallest of the dozen major plates that make up the Earth's crust.

NEPTUNE will be the world's largest cable-linked seafloor observatory. Stage I of the NEPTUNE project will lay an 800 km ring of powered fibre optic cable on the seabed over the northern part of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, a 200,000 sq km region in the northeast Pacific off the coasts of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon.
Credit: Image Courtesy Of University Of Victoria, Neptune Project

A team from U of T’s marine geophysics group is participating in a joint project to create the world’s largest cable-linked sea floor observatory on the Pacific Ocean floor.

Located in the northeast Pacific off the coasts of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, the active Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is one of the smallest of the dozen major plates that make up the Earth’s crust.

“The idea of this project is we can observe a whole array of different phenomena that are associated with plate tectonics and other processes in the ocean with this reasonably small -- by earth-scale standards -- sea floor laboratory,” said Eleanor Willoughby, a research associate in marine geophysics at U of T.

Known as the North-East Pacific Time-Series Undersea Networked Experiments, or NEPTUNE, the project will allow scientists to monitor biological, oceanographic and geological processes over a period that could stretch to more than two decades, depending on the long-term impacts on equipment from the immense water pressure and the corrosive effects of salt water.

NEPTUNE is a joint U.S.-Canada venture led by the University of Victoria in Canada and the University of Washington in the United States. In addition to the University of Toronto, 11 Canadian universities as well as other Canadian scientific institutions and governmental organizations are participating in the project.

“We know very little about three-quarters of the world’s surface -- what’s underneath the sea floor of the ocean,” said Reza Mir, a PhD candidate in exploration geophysics at U of T whose doctoral research will be largely devoted to NEPTUNE.

The first stage of NEPTUNE is scheduled to start in summer 2008. Six unmanned sea floor nodes, each roughly the size of a sport utility vehicle and each hosting an array of instruments, equipment and video cameras will be installed on the ocean floor in Canadian waters. These sea floor laboratories will then be connected to each other and to land via 800 kilometres of fibre optic cable, allowing scientists to conduct experiments and collect a wide range of data about this area of ocean.

U of T’s contribution includes designing and assembling the instrumentation required for two research projects at one of the nodes. One of these experiments involves designing an electromagnetic transmitter that will be used to study methane as it vents from the sea floor and where it exists in the form of gas hydrates (crystals containing methane found among sea floor sediments). The second experiment will use a gravity meter and a differential pressure gauge to measure the elastic properties of sea floor sediments and how the sea floor reacts relative to surface wave action.

Willoughby said methane deposits beneath the sea floor represent an untapped resource, a potential hazard and a source of greenhouse gas.

“Gas hydrates help hold the sea floor together and if they’re disassociated because of pressure or temperature changes there could be slump or a slide and these in turn can trigger tsunamis, so we need to know about their long-term stability,” Willoughby said. “And because hydrates store methane very compactly, it’s a potential energy source. It’s estimated there’s more than twice as much organic carbon trapped in gas hydrates than all other sources combined -- oil, gas, coal, anything else.”

Members of the NEPTUNE research team at U of T are Willoughby and Mir; Professor Nigel Edwards, project supervisor; Carsten Scholl, post-doctoral fellow, data modelling and interpretation; Andrei Swidinsky, PhD candidate, computer modelling.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Toronto. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Toronto. "Marine Geophysicists Probe Sea Floor." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070418125339.htm>.
University Of Toronto. (2007, April 20). Marine Geophysicists Probe Sea Floor. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070418125339.htm
University Of Toronto. "Marine Geophysicists Probe Sea Floor." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070418125339.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) Mount Paektu volcano in North Korea is showing signs of life and there's not much known about it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins