Lab 1.1 – Where are the OOI arrays located?

Fundamental concept: Recognizing the ocean basin and adjacent geography
Estimated time to complete: 20 minutes
Materials needed: Optional large map to display for class or printable maps for each student

The ocean is not as well known as many people think.  It is common for ocean scientists to say that more is known about the moon or Mars than about the sea.  The Ocean Observatories Initiative chose to position scientific instruments in six locations in the oceans to expand our understanding of many natural phenomenon, including climate, the health of ocean ecosystems, the linkages between life and volcanoes, and the forces at work in the coastal ocean.  This series of labs introduces you to several of these locations in the ocean, and many of the types of data collected there.  Should you decide to become an oceanographer you may dive more deeply into the OOI data, since all the data is freely available to anyone. Here, we will explore where on the globe the OOI arrays are located and why.

First, lets review some basic geography.

Now, lets put your geography knowledge to work and take a look at the location of the Ocean Observatories Initiative arrays.


Map of OOI Arrays

Figure 1.1.1 Map of OOI Arrays

  1. Complete the following table, identifying the ocean basin where each OOI array is located, the nearest land mass, and the nearest country, major city or U.S. state. 
Array Ocean Basin Nearest Land Mass Nearest Country/Major City/US State
Irminger Sea
Southern Ocean

(Note: This table is available in a fillable form within the LAB-1-student-form refer to your instructor for instructions.

Interpretation Questions

Use the map of OOI arrays and the table that you made to match the arrays to important ocean processes that occur around them.

  1. In the seas around Greenland water sinks to the seafloor and, over the course of about 1000 years, travels throughout the deep ocean basins eventually reaching the North Pacific Ocean. What array is closest to the point where water sinks? What array is closest to the end of the 1000 year circulation pattern?
  2. Another deep ocean water mass, called Antarctic Bottom Water, forms in the sea around Antarctica. Which of the OOI arrays is located closest to this point, so may give us data on how this water mass forms?
  3. If you wanted to study the differences between the shallow ocean on the east and west coast of the United States which arrays would have data from those locations?
  4. The Gulf Stream is a major ocean current that travels from south to north along the U.S. east coast. What array is best positioned to take measurements in this current?
  5. Each year in March-May, eastern North Pacific gray whales migrate from warm waters around Mexico, where their calves are born, along the coast of North America to feed in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea. Which array(s) do they swim past during this migration?