Sonardyne technology for new Canadian seabed observatory

30 April 2019

A major new seabed observatory that will provide critical information about earthquake and tsunami hazards is to be deployed offshore Vancouver, Canada, using long endurance acoustic sensing technology supplied by Sonardyne International Ltd.

The new Northern Cascadia Subduction Zone Observatory (NCSZO) will use a 'seafloor GPS' network to monitor long-term movements of the subducting Juan de Fuca plate and overriding North American tectonic plate. Data gathered by the new observatory will play a critical role in informing assessments of earthquake and tsunami risk to the large populations of the Pacific North-West.

The NCSZO is led by Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), an initiative of the University of Victoria, and is made possible through cooperation of international partners including Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The backbone of the NCSZO will comprise more than twenty Sonardyne Fetch subsea sensor logging nodes, which will be deployed in depths ranging from 400 to 2,500 metres of water depth for at least seven years at a time.

Data will be acquired up to two times a year using the GPS-Acoustic method (GPS-A) technique, the commercial application of which has been pioneered by Sonardyne. GPS-A uses acoustic positioning techniques, inertial navigation and GPS data to periodically position the Fetch instruments to centimetric-level accuracy, using a Sonardyne transceiver mounted on an unmanned surface vessel.

These measurements will enable the Fetch positions to be related to a corresponding onshore network of geodetic stations operated by NRCan, allowing the subsea plate motion and onshore plate motion to be correlated, which has only recently been made possible.

A number of Fetch units will also be connected to ONC's existing 900km-long NEPTUNE cabled ocean observatory to study the potential for continuous measurements. Furthermore, the cabled units will include Sonardyne's innovative Ambient-Zero-Ambient (AZA) functionality, which enables the instrument's high quality pressure sensor to be automatically recalibrated in-situ, by periodically measuring the sensor bias against an integrated low pressure sensor.

Sonardyne International Ltd
Ocean House
Blackbushe Business Park
Yateley
Hants GU46 6GD
UK
T: +44 1252 872288
F: +44 1252 876100
W: www.sonardyne.co.uk

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