New scientific and industrial trends of seafloor research focus increasingly on ephemeral geobiological processes Research and new technology are specifically required by the international Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) This convention promotes the study and prudent use of biological resources including those of the sea floor Advanced technologies, system solutions and technical tasks of intervention, operation, instrumentation and calibration, are required to perform these studies under the necessary in-situ conditions Methods and design of equipment for in-situ sampling, permanent seafloor observatories and benthic experimental stations will be presented Typical underwater technical baseline tasks are discussed such as the provision of long term power supply, material selection, in-situ sensing, increasing local intelligence, control and telemetry In conclusion, the scientific needs for increased research and product development in order to truly inhabit, protect and use the underwater world are presented


The seafloor is the largest phase boundary on Earth and thus a major factor in global change It constitutes both a target and a challenge for prudent human intervention and use Many of the complex material and phase transformation processes on and under the seafloor are only partly known and understood In particular this is true of seafloor microbiological processes, their sedimentary, oceanographic and biological interactions and their eventual use The role of microorganisms In the perpetual generation of marine methane and the formation of marine gas hydrates - the largest carbon reservoir on earth - their sedimentary storage and dissociation, and the associated micro-biological trophic relationships, are attracting increasing attention from science and industry

These ephemeral and dynamic processes comprise a large variety of interactions on and below the seafloor Variations in time and space, which are usually underestimated, need to be studied under in-situ conditions They must be ground truthed Undisturbed sampling, the classical ground truthing method of marine geology, must be extended beyond merely minimising mechanical disturbance of the sediments Sampling must also imply the task of preserving all relevant in-situ seafloor conditions, especially temperature, pressure, geochemistry, microbiology and benthos Pristine seafloor cores are required Techniques must be adapted for the logging and analysis of cores maintained on board ship and in laboratories ashore In pressurised autoclaves At the same time contamination of the samples during the sampling and retrieval process, e g by seawater, must be controlled (it is actually difficult, practically even impossible, to prevent contamination) Monitoring seafloor parameters while sampling helps to establish vitally Important In-situ seafloor conditions, with which laboratory analyses may then be correlated Continuous monitoring of in-situ seafloor parameters with permanent seafloor observations IS a further task These observations are increasingly used with differentiated and specialised instrumentation

Remote processes will also be studied by in-situ experiments on and under the seafloor Practical experimental research on the seafloor IS already routinely performed In some oceanographic sectors such as ocean acoustics, eg ocean bottom seismometers (OBS) With similar systems, attempts are being made to investigate in-situ other physical chemical and biological processes, such as heat transfer, sedimentation supply of oxygen and carbon

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