Marine Biogeochemistry

DeepSea Monitoring Projects

The DeepSea Monitoring group is involved in national and international research projects, these are:


There is a need to develop an autonomous, reliable, cost effective technology to map vast terrains, in terms of mineral and raw material contents which will aid in reducing the cost of mineral exploration, currently performed by ROVs and dedicated SSVs and crew. Furthermore there is a need to identify, in an efficient and non-intrusive manner (minimum impact to the environment), the most rich mineral sites. This technology will aid the seabed mining industry, reduce the cost of exploration and especially the detailed identification of the raw materials contained in a mining sites and enable targeted mining only of the richest resources existing.

ROBUST aims to tackle the aforementioned issue by developing sea bed in situ material identification through the fusion of two technologies, namely laser-based in-situ element-analyzing capability merged with underwater AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) technologies for sea bed 3D mapping. This will enable resource identification done by robotic control enabled by the synergy between AUV hovering and manipulator capabilities. The underwater robotic laser process is the Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS), used for identification of materials on the sea bed. The AUV Robotic vehicle will dive, identify the resources that are targeted for LIBS scanning through 3D real time mapping of the terrain (hydro-acoustically, laser scanners, photogrammetry) and position the LIBS in the required locations of mineral deposits on the ocean floor to autonomously perform qualitative and quantitative analyses.

Also see


Munitions in the sea endangers shipping, the installation of new power lines for offshore wind farms, people on beaches and at sea and is a potential threat for the marine ecosystem’s state of health. It is thus important to monitor the ongoing process of corrosion of the munitions and the subsequent increased release of compounds found in explosives into the environment.

The consortium of the parallel BMWi funded joint project RoBEMM aims to develop a fully automated delaboration unit for conventional munitions, a demonstrator to be tested examplarily. The joint project UDEMM (BMBF) of GEOMAR, IOW (The Leibnitz Institute for Baltic Sea Research) and CAU (Chrisitan-Albrechts University Kiel) deals with the monitoring of the delaboration, which needs to take place without any escape of pollutants. In order to make an unambiguous evaluation, the current state without any impact of delaboration on the environment has to be monitored first.

To assure this, UDEMM comprises four scientific work packages for 1)hydroacoustic and visual monitoring/precise location of munitions and their possible rearrangement (GEOMAR), 2) small-scale modeling of sea currents (IOW), 3) the dispersion of pollutants (compounds typically found in explosives) in the water column by chemical analyses (GEOMAR) and 4) biological enrichment of compounds typically found in explosives in mussels(CAU).

Two areas, the “Kolberger Heide” in the Bay of Kiel and the Eckernförde Bay are examined within all workpackages. This will show whether compounds typically found in explosives are currently already released into the marine environment in measurable concentrations (Kolberger Heide). At the same time, the background concentration for the planned test delaboration is determined (Eckernförde Bay).

The applied methods can be used as a blueprint for upcoming monitoring and large-scale delaboration projects.

Also see


ENVRI PLUS is a cluster of research infrastructures (RIs) for Environmental and Earth System sciences, built around the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap and associating leading e-infrastructures and Integrating Activities together with technical specialist partners. ENVRIPLUS is driven by 3 overarching goals: 1) favoring cross-fertilization between infrastructures, 2) implementing innovative concepts and devices across RIs, and 3) facilitating research and innovation in the field of environment to an increasing number of users outside the RIs.

ENVRIPLUS organizes its activities along a main strategic plan where sharing multi-disciplinary expertise will be most effective. It aims to improve Earth observation monitoring systems and strategies, including actions towards harmonization and innovation, to generate common solutions to many shared information technology and data related challenges, to harmonize policies for access and provide strategies for knowledge transfer amongst RIs. ENVRIPLUS develops guidelines to enhance trans-disciplinary use of data and data-products supported by applied use-cases involving RIs from different domains. ENVRIPLUS coordinates actions to improve communication and cooperation, addressing Environmental RIs at all levels, from management to end-users, implementing RI-staff exchange programs, generating material for RI personnel, and proposing common strategic developments and actions for enhancing services to users and evaluating the socio-economic impacts. ENVRIPLUS is expected to facilitate structuration and improve quality of services offered both within single RIs and at pan-RI level. It promotes efficient and multi-disciplinary research offering new opportunities to users, new tools to RI managers and new communication strategies for environmental RI communities. The produced solutions, services and other project results are made available to all environmental RI initiatives, thus contributing to the development of a consistent European RI ecosystem.

See also


The EU-funded project MIDAS (Managing Impact of Deep Sea Resource Exploration) started on 1st Nov 2013. It is a multidisciplinary research program that investigates the environmental impacts of extracting mineral and energy resources from the deep-sea environment. Prof. Greinert is the work package leader of WP1 ‘Geological Impacts’. Together with other colleagues from GEOMAR, the group is involved in evaluating the impact of exploitation of gas hydrate as a hydrocarbon source on the environment. Quantifying the amount of ‘free’ gas released from the seafloor and the fate of methane in the water column (increasing ocean acidification) as well as its possible transport into the atmosphere (implications for global warming) are the research topics in focus of the group. Furthermore, camera calibration, seafloor navigation, image and video annotation as well as multibeam and habitat mapping are addressed together with colleagues from the consortium.


The Joint Project Initiative Oceans Pilot Action 'Ecological aspects of deep-sea mining' will assess the impact of potential mining activities on deep-sea ecosystems. The project has started on 1st Jan 2015. It aims to reevaluate the environmental status of poly-metallic nodule habitats in the DISCOL Experimental Area in 4200 m water depth at 7° S in the SE Pacific and to acquire base line data for the evaluation of possible future impacts of Mn-nodule mining activities in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), NE Pacific. Germany, as well as a number of other European countries, hold claims in the CCZ to evaluate the economic resources and to perform base line studies researching the ecological functioning, resilience and connectivity of species in the different habitats. Three legs with the new RV SONNE took place in 2015. Two legs were dedicated to study the DISCOL area with Prof. Greinert as the PI of SO242 Leg 1 (July-August 2015). The group will be strongly involved in AUV-based image and hydroacoustic mapping, lander deployments and image database issues. This directly links to the above mentioned topic of ‘image annotation data bases’.


The third phase of the BMBF/BMWI-funded “Submarine Gas Hydrate Reservoirs” has started in early 2015. The project aims to commercialize techniques for monitoring and quantifying free gas release. As part of these technical developments the group lends support with technical and scientific know-how, with expertise in sea going operations and as a partner for technology-application tests.


CAGE and MOCA focus on methane release in the Arctic offshore Svalbard, and the group is involved as an affiliated researcher (CAGE) and external partner (MOCA). The projects are run by the University of Tromsoe and NILU in Norway, respectively. We conduct hydroacoustic analyses in CAGE and MOCA to quantify the amount of free gas released from several sites at the shelf and slope offshore PKF as well as at pockmarks at Vestnesa Ridge. Further we support the projects with our geochemical expertise and technology to measure methane in the water column and at the sea surface.



Several members of the group are also members of the Future Ocean Cluster.

A selection of other important projects of the Research Unit Marine Geosystems can be found here.


Prof. Dr. Jens Greinert
DSM Group Leader

Room: 8A-103
Phone: +49 431 600-2590
E-Mail: jgreinert(at)

Dr. Inken-Marie Preuss
Research coordination and group assistance

Room: 8A-104
Phone: +49 431 600-2507
E-mail: ipreuss(at)