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$20 million to expand seafloor observatory

The research capacity of the University of Victoria-led NEPTUNE Canada, the world's first regional cabled ocean observatory, received a significant boost Sept. 26 with the announcement of an additional $20 million in funding.

The $8 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), $8 million from the BC Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) and $4 million of in-kind support from private partners including Alcatel will allow scientists to significantly expand the scope and scientific impact of the NEPTUNE Canada observatory.

Beginning in fall 2007, Alcatel will lay an 800-km network of powered fibre optic cable across the seafloor in the deep ocean off the B.C. coast. A series of laboratories, or "nodes," along the cable will allow land-based scientists to remotely control and monitor instruments, video cameras and underwater vehicles as they collect data from the ocean surface to beneath the seafloor.

The observatory will revolutionize ocean research by transmitting images and data instantly to shore where they will be relayed to researchers, educational institutions, science centres and the public via the Internet.

The additional funding will be used to increase the number of nodes from two to as many as six and the number of scientific instruments from 70 to more than 200. This will allow more coverage of the northern Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, permitting broader studies on such key topics as seismic and tsunami activity, ocean-climate interactions and influence on fisheries, gas hydrate deposits, and seafloor ecology.

"I want to express my appreciation to CFI, BCKDF and Alcatel for recognizing the importance and significance of NEPTUNE Canada's potential through this support," says UVic President David Turpin. "Thanks to the combined efforts of the partners in this initiative, Canada and UVic will be at the forefront of undersea research, leading the world in the use of regional cabled ocean observatori
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Contact: Patty Pitts
ppitts@uvic.ca
250-721-7656
University of Victoria
27-Sep-2006


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