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Seafloor Multidisciplinary Observatories


From the late ’90 INGV has coordinated, taken part and carried out together with European partnerships a set of international and national projects for the design, development and operation of a prototype of seafloor observatory: GEOSTAR - the Geophysical and Oceanographic Station for Abyssal Research.
The observatory prototype comprises a set of geophysical and oceanographic sensors for continuous, uniquely time-referenced and synchronized measurements and it is managed from the sea surface through a dedicated remotely controlled tethered vehicle, MODUS. GEOSTAR has been submitted to a set of pilot experiments in the Mediterranean and Atlantic and additional seafloor observatories with different dimension and equipments were derived. INGV can presently rely on 6 multiparameter seafloor observatories which have been used with a variety of configurations: stand-alone (battery power supply and local recordings), acoustically linked to a surface buoy (battery power supply and acoustic data transmission) and cabled (powered from land, real-time data transmission).

From 2005 the SN-1 observatory is working offshore Eastern Sicily at about 2100 m w.d. in cabled configuration thanks to an agreement with the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics making accessible a 25-km long electro-optical cable. The GEOSTAR-class observatories have so far provided a huge amount of long-term time series of seismological, gravity, magnetic, geochemical, oceanographic measurements which constitute an unprecedented resource to understand the complex and possibly related processes taking place in the deep sea.

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