vent base alpha / mid ocean ride mining / brazil presalt / race to the deep frontier / deep sea robotics / deep sea cables / deep sea process heat / pyrolysis / industrial seasteads / investor proposals /
Despite more than a century of research, most of the deep sea remains a mystery. But oceanographer John Delaney at the University of Washington has a plan to change that. “We need a permanent presence in the ocean,” he says. “But with the technology we’re currently using – satellites, ships, submersibles – it’s like trying to do particle physics without an accelerator.” The approach, dubbed the Neptune Project, would string 10 semiautomated geobiological labs across the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate off Washington, 8,000 feet underwater. Each would have cameras, lights, robots, and sensors, all connected to the surface via optical cable to transmit data on everything from the biomass of microbes to the effects of ocean temperature on weather. It might actually happen: Researchers at British Columbia’s University of Victoria are scheduled to begin building their 500-mile segment in 2007, and this fall US researchers are hoping for a $150 million grant to fund another 900 miles. Dive in and take a look.
– Doug Merlino / Wired
Seasteads will of course be the platforms on which this human presence in the ocean takes place. There is business to do on may levels and in many fields.