Cape Wind starts survey operation


A geophysical and geotechnical survey of the seabed off Cape Cod that is slated to become the nation’s first offshore wind farm has begun. Cape Wind started the operation as part of its construction design and engineering process on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound.  

This multi-million dollar program will continue through September or October, involving up to 50 scientists, engineers, archeologists and geologists using specialized vessels, according to Cape Wind. The offshore wind project announced the survey in a July 5 news release.

Fugro, which is based in Norfolk, Va., and has performed similar work for the majority of offshore wind farms in Europe, is the lead contractor.

“Our geotechnical program this summer on Horseshoe Shoal begins our detailed design engineering and construction phase and will allow us to optimize our project to ensure that Cape Wind will deliver its important clean energy benefits over its design life,” said Cape Wind President Jim Gordon.

Cape Wind’s 130 wind turbines would occupy 24 square miles and be rated at 468 MW maximum.

New Bedford, Mass.-based Fathom Research will work with the University of Rhode Island to perform sediment analysis; Waltham-based ESS Group is providing environmental engineering services and they are overseeing the marine mammal monitoring program to minimize any disturbance to marine mammals from the project activities on Horseshoe Shoal.

Fugro Vice President Tom McNeilan said, “Cape Wind is undertaking one of the most comprehensive geophysical surveys in the history of the U.S. North Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf for construction engineering.”

The first phase of this four-phase geology program commences July 6 and will involve continuous offshore presence on the project site. The four phases are:

  1. A geophysical survey which employs state-of-the-art acoustic imaging to map the seafloor and the submerged layers below the seafloor.
  2. Obtaining and analyzing vibracore samples that will build upon previous surveys to look for paleosols and help ensure there are no cultural artifacts present.
  3. Cone Penetration Tests (CPTs) to be advanced into the subsurface to measure soil characteristics.
  4. Geotechnical exploration that will employ deep CPTs and deep borings.

Cape Wind has informed the U.S. Coast Guard of the Project’s presence on Horseshoe Shoal, and a Notice to Mariners was issued on June 13, 2012.