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UW Today
September 18, 2013

After almost seven weeks at sea, University of Washington scientists and engineers have installed pieces for a historic observatory. Sitting on the ocean floor are 14 miles of cable connected to sensors, seismometers and a high-definition video camera, poised to send status updates from the deep ocean.

“It went well, we accomplished all of our goals,” said principal investigator John Delaney, a UW professor of oceanography. “It’s very exciting to see this thing coming together.”

Most of the work took place on or around a mile-high volcano that sits in water 2 miles deep, about 300 miles off the Oregon coast.

The instruments are the eyes and ears of a project that aims to provide a new way of doing oceanography. The UW is leading construction and early operation of a $239 million National Science Foundation project to bring high-voltage power and broadband Internet to the deep sea, allowing real-time, continuous monitoring of a geologic environment linked to massive earthquakes, major currents and mysterious ancient life forms.

The cabled observatory off the Washington and Oregon coasts, known as the Regional Scale Nodes, is part of the national Ocean Observatories Initiative, an effort to integrate U.S. measurements of the ocean and seafloor.

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