The Regional Cabled Array

Cabled Array Location

The Regional Cabled Array is transforming the way we study and interact with the global ocean.

In 2015, the National Science Foundations' Regional Cabled Array submarine fiber-optic cabled observatory became operational, streaming real-time data to shore from a diverse array of >140 instruments. The network spans the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, with two cables extending from a Shore Station in Pacific City, Oregon.  One   branch   extends   ~480   km   due   west   to   Axial Seamount, the largest  volcano  on the Juan  de Fuca  Ridge.  The voclano is the most active off our coast, erupting in 1998, 2011, and 2015. The second branch extends 208 km southward along the base of the Cascadia  Subduction  Zone  (2900  m) and then  turns  east extending   147   km   to  80  m  water   depth   offshore   Newport, Oregon. The system was designed and is now operated and maintained by the University of Washington, Applied Physics Laboratory and School of Oceanography.

The Regional Cabled Array includes  six state-of-the-art  instrumented, full water column moorings (up to 2900 m water depth) hosting instrumented  wire crawlers, winched science pods, and platforms to study  linkages  among  physical,  biological  and chemical processes   spanning   blue   water   to  coastal   systems   along   the Cascadia  Margin.  The  coastal  array  is  located  at  highly productive   coastal   sites  strongly   impacted   by  the  California Current, upwelling, ocean acidification, and hypoxia events. The network also includes cutting edge seafloor sensors focused on understanding active volcanism, life in extreme environments, seismicity, and biogeochemical processes and fluxes in actively forming  gas hydrate  systems.  Two-way  24/7/365  communication with direct connection  to the Internet,  with expansion  up to 240 Gb/s  and  high  power  (8  kW),  allow  highly  interactive, rapid responses  with adaptive  sampling  to events such as formation  of thin layers, large storms, internal waves, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.

With an operational life of at least 25 years, the Regional Cabled Array will provide decades of sustained, high quality coregistered, multidisciplinary  data at rates up to 250 kilisamples/second and at spatial resolutions of centimeters to kilometers. The high bandwidth  and power provides significant  expansion  capabilities for innovative sensing systems that include advancement of autonomous vehicles with companion docking stations that can change   missions   in  response   to  changing   conditions   without human intervention, 3D imagers, and in situ DNA samplers. International installation of progressively advanced submarine cabled  observatories  will  provide  unprecedented  monitoring  of the oceans, and the entrainment  of a global community of users – researchers, educators, policy makers and the public.