Scientific requirements for an abyssal benthic laboratory

Thiel, H., Kirstein, K.-O., Luth, C., Luther, G., Meyer-Reil, A.-L., Pfannkuche, Olaf and Weydert, M. (1994) Scientific requirements for an abyssal benthic laboratory Journal of Marine Systems, 4 . pp. 421-439. DOI 10.1016/0924-7963(94)90019-1.

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For over thirty years man has studied “outer space” and installed satellites which watch the surface of the Earth. The great depths of the world ocean are, however, practically unknown and there is an urgent need to put abyssal benthic laboratories into “inner space” in order to study basic phenomena of interest to marine science and climatology as well as man's impact on the oceans.

In view of the numerous problems related to global change, as a first step emphasis should first be on the role of the oceans and their inherent processes, which are the focus of such international programmes as the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) and the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS). Multi-disciplinary registration of key events at selected key sites investigating the variability in time and space are of the utmost importance. The same methods and techniques must be used for the study of human impacts on the deep oceans caused by mining of metalliferous resources and by waste disposal as well as in basic studies. However, the investigation of the inner space of our planet has certain requirements. As long-term and large-scale investigations become more and more important, development of automized systems, largely independent from research vessels will be required. This will demand high capacities of energy for all technical functions as well as high storage capacities for data and samples. As a consequence the needs for two different—although overlapping—functional approaches are defined for future deep-sea deployments.

(A) A system for long-term registration of the natural variability and long-term monitoring of human impacts: (B) A system for short-term observations and short-time experimentations. This report summarizes their technological demands. The envisioned interdisciplinary technology should deliver information on physical, biological and geochemical processes and their variabilities in the deep oceans. The prospected systems need to have the ability for real time video observation, data transfer and experimental manipulation, as well as sensing and sampling facilities with large storage capacities for long-term deployments.

Prospective costs of the described multipurpose abyssal benthic laboratory will presumably exceed the funds for deep-sea research of a single country. A joint European effort could solve this problem and help to manifest a leading role for European marine science in international deep-sea and global change research.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/0924-7963(94)90019-1
ISSN: 0924-7963
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2008 17:27
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2017 08:43

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