News Details

Director's Update

Dec 09, 2010

On 8 December 2009, NEPTUNE Canada went live with the flow of data to the scientific community and public. Today, we have cause to celebrate all the successes achieved over the last year and the accumulated 10TB of data and imagery. Among our accomplishments was a fall installation cruise to the Endeavour Segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge: the most challenging site to instrument logistically. It involved finding routes to lay the three 6km cables from the node over the harsh basaltic seafloor of the ridge flank marked by crevasses, lava collapse depressions, and into the central rift axis marked by hydrothermal venting.

Grotto Vent
Hydrothermal vent at Main Endeavour Field. (Click to enlarge.)

Two of the three cables were installed with instruments and after a month of receiving valuable data, one cable failed. Elsewhere on the observatory, a new model of the crawler with added instrumentation was deployed successfully; also at Barkley Canyon, the vertical profiler with its 11 instruments operated well up to heights of 250m above the seafloor but developed a fault and was brought back to shore for modifications.

My appointment as Director of NEPTUNE Canada comes to an end on 30 June 2011 following a decade in the position. The objective of the role included taking the project to a point where the infrastructure was installed and the initial operating funding secured. This has been largely achieved. The NEPTUNE Canada Director position will be widely advertised over the next two months with the Search Committee chaired by Martin Taylor, President and CEO of Ocean Networks Canada (ONC). It has been a privilege to serve as Director and to see the observatory become a reality through many challenging phases and through both the dedication of its staff and the support of the University of Victoria, funding agencies, and many stakeholders and partner institutions. The nature of the position will change to some degree with the new Management Agreement between ONC and the University of Victoria, whereby more autonomy is delegated to ONC in building NC and VENUS as national facilities.

I would like to take this opportunity to pay special tribute to Brian Bornhold whose contribution to NEPTUNE Canada's success has been invaluable. After five years as Project Scientist and formerly as Co-Chief Scientist, he is ending his contract with us but will continue to be involved through his policy work with ONC.

Brian Bornhold and Kim Wallace
Brian Bornhold and Kim Wallace, 23 May 10. (Click to enlarge.)

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), one of our main funding agencies, recently announced a new program for operating support for Major Science Initiatives such as the NEPTUNE Canada and VENUS observatories. CFI also announced a new funding architecture related to the $600M designated in the 2009 federal budget, including the Leading Edge Fund. NEPTUNE Canada expects to submit a proposal to CFI to expand the observatory and further discussions will be part of the NEPTUNE Canada workshop being planned for April. As a condition of the 2009 award a CFI external review committee visited Victoria on 3 December to examine the expenditures of the current operating grant for ONC/NEPTUNE Canada/VENUS.

Interactions with international partners continue. In early December, two scientists from Tongji University, Shanghai, China will visit as a follow-up for a MOU agreement for collaboration. In early January, an Italian Ocean Technology Mission will visit us and industrial companies in Victoria and Vancouver; the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), which sponsored a similar mission of five Spanish observatories last year, will facilitate this.

As we draw to the end of 2010, we are pleased to recognize the major achievements that have been made in NEPTUNE Canada instrument installations and the first year of operational results. We will be sharing these advances at this month’s conferences of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco and the ESONET General Assembly in Marseille, France. The results are being acknowledged in an article in Science magazine as one the major scientific breakthroughs of the past year. Hopefully, 2011 will yield even greater successes.

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