On 03.03.2022 our Waveglider was successfully recovered by the NOAA ship Bell M. Shimada. In a multi-institutional effort, lead by colleagues from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Waveglider was deployed on 28 September 2021 to make seafloor geodesy measurements of a station in Alaska located near the July 29, 2021 Mw 8.2 Chignik earthquake. Now, 155 days and 5444 kilometers later, that mission is complete.
We made our measurements on 18 October, and then settled in to wait for a scheduled pick-up by a research ship that planned to pass by the Waveglider’s location in early December. Unfortunately that ship was unable to make the recovery. We had used almost all the reserve battery power during our measurement campaign, and with the poor weather and short days of the Alaska winter, the batteries were completely drained while waiting for the pick-up. With only a few hours of power, at most, each day, our team struggled to pilot the Waveglider along a new track that would bring it back to Newport, Oregon, where it could be recovered. Dodging commercial shipping that would never see our small vessel and would destroy it if they collided, we navigated the Waveglider more than half-way across the Pacific towards our new target before the research ship Bell M. Shimada kindly agreed to perform the recovery. The Waveglider will now be returned to shore, and the hard work of processing and analyzing the data will begin. Our results will improve fault slip estimates from the earthquake, and allow us to assess the fault area available for potential future earthquakes and their potential for generating tsunamis.