National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2006

KEO mooring engineering analysis

Lawrence-Slavas, N., C. Meinig, and H. Milburn

NOAA Tech. Memo. OAR PMEL-130, NTIS: PB2006-114273, 30 pp (2006)

As a contribution to the global network of OceanSITES time series reference sites a Kuroshio Extension Observatory (KEO) mooring was deployed by NOAA/PMEL in the recirculation gyre in June 2004. The low-cost KEO mooring includes a suite of meteorological, chemical, subsurface, and engineering instrumentation reporting in real time. The mooring was designed to withstand the strong and deep western ocean boundary currents, and the harsh surface conditions found in the Kuroshio Extension region. The observatory returned near 100% data return for 18 months, providing an important data set in an area that is sparsely sampled and has the largest air-sea fluxes in the Pacific. On 6 November 2005, in relatively benign conditions, the KEO buoy broke loose from its mooring and fortuitously was recovered 2 days later. Post failure inspection of the mooring line revealed the mooring had parted in the middle of a continuous section of 3/4" nylon, 300 m below the lower terminus of the jacketed wire rope, ~1000 m below the surface. Additionally, analysis of the load cell data exposed concerning patterns of shock loading throughout the deployment period. This report focuses on the KEO mooring design and failure analysis. The wealth of environmental and engineering data available for this mooring gave PMEL engineers a rare opportunity to compare model results with actual observations.

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