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Ocean Observatories


Seeding the Oceans with Observatories

Seeding the Oceans with Observatories

Ship-borne expeditions have been the dominant means of exploring the oceans in the 20th century. Scientists aboard ships made the observations and gathered the data that confirmed the revolutionary theory of plate tectonics, which demonstrated that the earth is a complex, multi-faceted system that changes over time. But that revelation also exposed a major shortcoming of the ship-based exploratory approach: its very limited ability to quantify change.

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NEPTUNE: A Fiber-Optic ‘Telescope’ to Inner Space

NEPTUNE: A Fiber-Optic 'Telescope' to Inner Space

NEPTUNE is a proposed system of high-speed fiber- optic submarine cables linking a series of seafloor nodes supporting thousands of assorted measuring instruments, video equipment, and robotic vehicles that could upload power and download data at undersea docks. Unlike conventional telephone cables, which supply power from shore in a straight line, end to end, NEPTUNE would operate like a power grid, distributing power simultaneously and as needed throughout the network. Working much like a campus data network (with nodes analogous to buildings and each instrument like a workstation), NEPTUNE would provide real-time transmission of data and two-way communications.

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Seafloor to Surface to Satellite to Shore

Seafloor to Surface to Satellite to Shore

The next great leap in our understanding of the earth-ocean system will require us to put our “eyes” and “ears” in the ocean to observe the dynamic processes going on there as they are happening, in real time.

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Plugging the Seafloor with CORKs

Plugging the Seafloor with CORKs

Hidden beneath the seafloor throughout most of the world’s oceans lies a massive, dynamic plumbing system that is a central component of our planet’s inner workings.

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Outposts in the Ocean

Oceanographers and climatologists have something in common with politicians and stock market analysts: They are all trying to get a grasp on a complex, ever-shifting system.

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Ocean Seismic Network Seafloor Observatories

Ocean Seismic Network Seafloor Observatories

Our knowledge of the physical characteristics of Earth’s deep interior is based largely on observations of surface vibrations that occur after large earthquakes. Using the same techniques as CAT (Computer Aided Tomography) scans in medical imaging, seismologists can “image” the interior of our planet. But just as medical imaging requires sensors that surround the patient, seismic imaging requires sensors surrounding the earth.

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