The VISIONS 12 Expedition was CANCELLED due to necessary repairs to the R/V Thompson.

The VISIONS'12 Expedition, scheduled to depart September 1st, was cancelled due to necessary repairs to the R/V Thomas G. Thompson. We are already excitedly preparing for 60 days at sea next summer for VISIONS'13, when we will add instruments and sensors to the high-bandwidth and power cable and primary nodes awaiting their arrival on the seafloor.

The VISIONS’12 research expedition that had been scheduled to take place September 1 – 20, 2012 on the UW-operated Research Vessel Thomas G. Thompson would have deployed ROPOS, a tethered underwater robot that is a state-of-the-art remotely operated vehicle operated by the Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility. VISIONS '12 is one in a series of planned expeditions funded by the National Science Foundation and the University of Washington to conduct work related to the construction, operations, and maintenance of the regional cabled network component of the NSF Ocean Observatories Initiative. The focus of work on VISIONS '12 will be the two primary study sites--Hydrate Ridge and Axial Seamount--on the 575-mile fiber-optic/electrical cabled system.

University of Washington researchers have spent decades studying the hydrothermal vent fields, underwater volcanoes, and exotic life forms associated with the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate located off the coasts of British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. Their fascination and enthusiasm for the region has continually inspired them to find ways to share their explorations and discoveries with audiences around the world. (See short video here.) Again in 2012, the UW OOI team of oceanographers and engineers will take undergraduate and graduate students to sea to provide at-sea, hands-on learning experiences. Plans are also being made for live, interactive shipboard and seafloor broadcasts via the Internet that will reach shore-based audiences around the world and will expand the use of social media that was launched in 2011.

The primary purpose of the VISIONS '12 expedition was to continue surveys and assessments related to the installation of the OOI’s high-power and high-bandwidth cabled ocean observatory, which has the formal name of the Regional Scale Nodes. The expedition planned to utilize ROV ROPOS and other shipboard technologies for real-time imaging, sampling, and mapping of 1) methane seeps and novel biological communities on the Oregon Continental Margin, and 2) submarine hot springs on Axial Seamount, located more than 300 miles off the Washington coast. One of the primary tasks will be to verify locations for the placement of scientific instruments and sensors that will stream live, non-proprietary data to shore 24/7/365 when the cabled observatory is operational in 2014. These instruments will be located across the seafloor and within active methane seeps and hydrothermal vents, as well as distributed throughout the entire water column to measure chemical, physical, biological, and geological parameters within the ocean and seafloor.