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Sphere implosion

August 17, 2023

A crushed subsurface flotation sphere is pulled from the Southern Atlantic Ocean in 2018. As part of the Ocean Observatories Initiative Global Argentine Basin Array, the sphere was part of a Hybrid Profiler Mooring taking measurements in 5,200 meters (17,000 feet) of water. The strong currents in the Argentine Basin caused the mooring to “blow down” beyond its pressure rating of 1,000 meters (3,280 feet). As the sphere began to crush under the intense ocean pressure, it lost its buoyancy and fell to the seafloor. Two years later, in 2018, it was recovered by the OOI team aboard R/V Atlantis, thanks to back-up buoyancy in the form of glass balls at the bottom of the mooring.

The array has been discontinued, but OOI engineers and scientists continue to learn from incidents like these– and the constant stream of ocean data coming in from five other ocean observation network sites in the Northern Hemisphere.

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