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Technology & Infrastructure needs

Technology & Infrastructure needs – Deep-sea technology is cost-intensive and challenging and hence requires that partners closely cooperate in their use and further development. Future seafloor ecosystem studies should include the third (depth) and fourth (time) dimension. To study the connection between the deep subsurface and seafloor ecosystem structure, and to obtain high-resolution paleoceanography archives, drilling and other subseafloor sampling is crucial. Hence the collaboration with IODP, IMAGES for long piston coring, as well as the use of portable drill rigs - such as the University of Bremen’s MeBo – is needed. IODP in particular is developing state-of-the-art autoclave systems for methane hydrates sampling, or devices to collect microbial or other biological specimens under pristine conditions for DNA extraction, cultivation, etc. One recent example how to best utilise European infrastructure is the EUROFLEETS initiative.

Other than sampling, the need to develop and to invent new technology is emerging in order to understand episodicity of phenomena such as natural hazards, climate variation, and other geoprocesses that affect life and ecosystems. For example, deep-sea and subseafloor observatories will require development of new technology such as dockable autonomous underwater vehicles, borehole sensors tolerating high pressure and temperature at depth, or in situ probes, chambers and sampling devices.

It is essential that all the data collected are made available to the community. EMODNET (European Marine Observation and Data Network) aims at summarising data from the above (and other) campaigns for an end-to-end, integrated and inter-operable network of systems of European marine observations and data communications, management and delivery systems, supported by a comprehensive user-oriented toolkit to enable implementation of the Integrated Maritime Policy for Europe. It is important that DS3F links with this initiative.

The detailed study of ecosystems in extreme environments at or beneath the seafloor has attested that subseafloor processes provide so called geofuels to enable life forms to evolve, however, such studies require innovative technology. Engineering of such seagoing equipment will be needed and many opportunities will arise for SME companies to be involved in their development, fulfilling requirements by the scientific community as well as offshore industry at the same time.