UVic’s underwater Internet back online

Engineers complete underwater manoeuvre, repair subsea network

A team of engineers and technologists returned to Victoria this week after successfully repairing a system of data and power cables 100 metres below the surface of the ocean near Bamfield.

On Sept. 20, NEPTUNE Canada, the world’s first regional-scale cabled observatory network, experienced a complete network shutdown.

The system collects live data from 800 kilometres of sea floor and transmits it back to the University of Victoria and to the rest of the world using high-speed fibre-optic communications.

Battling the darkness of the ocean, it took the crew one week to identify and repair the issue: a faulty connection between cable lines at Folger Passage in Barkley Sound.

“It (required) heavy equipment and a big ship with dynamic positioning to stay on location amidst bad weather conditions,” said Kate Moran, director of NEPTUNE Canada.

Experience gained from the repair will be shared with builders of similar systems around the world, including researchers in the United States who are in the first stage of installing a complementary subsea system scheduled to go online by 2014.

The estimated $1-million cost of the work is covered under NEPTUNE Canada’s maintenance budget.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Did you know?

• NEPTUNE Canada collects data used to research earthquakes and tsunamis to fisheries and climate change through a range of sensors, including a series of seismometers.

• Anyone with Internet access can observe the ocean floor across the Juan de Fuca plate at Neptunecanada.ca. “We’re looking to the broader community – to citizens and to scientists – to help us understand some of the data, because it’s a new way of doing oceanography,” said Kate Moran. “We’re connected to the oceans 24-7.”