Research perspective

In the FB4 research division "Magmatic and Hydrothermal Systems" we deal with the geological environment, the formation conditions and the element enrichments of massive sulfide deposits in all oceans. In addition to grabs, submersibles, remotely operated underwater robots (e.g., ROV Kiel 6000) and autonomous systems (e.g., AUV „ABYSS“) are used. In addition, methods for the search and exploration of such deposits are developed together with the research unit "Marine Geodynamics".

MMR Research goals

The aim of the research in the MMR group at GEOMAR is to understand the formation of these potential deposits and to advance the exploration of the seabed in order to estimate the potential of these deposits and to be able to predict their occurrence. We are also investigating the ecosystem impacts of the release of potentially toxic metals that would result from the exploitation of marine mineral deposits. 

Formation, development, and distribution of MMR

The study of the formation and temporal evolution of hydrothermal systems and deposits provides an opportunity to understand processes that shape the Earth's surface and have a global impact on ocean chemistry and oceanic crustal evolution. In addition, it can contribute to resource security and possibly help us understand the origin of life on Earth or Earth-like planets. Our work is mainly concerned with the genesis and temporal evolution of such deposits. Further studies are concerned with the processes leading to non-ferrous and precious metal enrichment or zonation in such deposits. 

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Fluid chemistry and environmental impact studies

Metals in seafloor deposits are not only valuable resources for high-tech and "green energy" products, but some are unfortunately also harmful to many marine organisms at certain concentrations. Therefore, as part of the research focus on “Metals in the Ocean”, the MMR group is addressing all aspects of trace metals associated with mineral deposits in the marine environment, including their concentration, physical and chemical speciation, and bioavailability and toxicity

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Our research resources, methods, and technology

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Current research activity

  • KIMERAArtificial intelligence applied to mapping of the seafloor and marine spatial planning (01.09.2023-31.08.2026). PIs: P. Brandl/S.Petersen
  • INDEX 2023 (26.9.-13.11.2023), geological mapping in the Indian Ocean (BGR): 2017-2022. Chief Scientist: Kuhn, T (BGR).
  • HEXPLORES 2023 (4.10.-1.11.2023) - Hydrothermal EXPLOration of the REd Sea,” The Effect of Spreading Rate on the Frequency Distribution of Hydrothermal Vent Sites and Volcanic Activity in the Red Sea Rift”, Red Sea, RV Meteor, PIs: N. Augustin (GEOMAR)/F. van der Zwan (KAUST)/S. Petersen (GEOMAR)/ C. Devey (GEOMAR).
  • SO299 DYNAMET (6.6.-29.7.2023) - geoDYNAmics & METallogeny, “Arc rifting, metallogeny and microplate evolution: an integrated geodynamic, magmatic and hydrothermal study of the Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea”, offshore Papua-Neuguinea, RV Sonne (SO299), Chief Scientists: P. Brandl/M. Hannington.
  • DOMETRAP, subproject of the SPP2238 "DOME" (DFG): 2020-2023
  • AZORES Hot Vents (29.11.-31.12.2022), “Exploration of hydrothermal systems on the Azores Plateau, Central North Atlantic Ocean”, Central North Atlantic, RV Meteor, PIs: C. Schmidt (GEOMAR)/C. Hensen (GEOMAR)/N. Kaul (Bremen University)/P. Terrinha (Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere, IPMA).
  • **Active production of Fe ligands: How important are benthic microbes for regulating bioavailable iron in the ocean?

** For further information for undergraduate and/or postgraduate involvment in this project, please contact the team assistant (

Recently completed projects

  • IslandImpact (16.11.-17.12.2022) - “Understanding the regional impact of islands (South Georgia) on Southern Ocean biogeochemistry and ecosystem function", South-Atlantic, RV Polarstern (PS133), Chief Scientist: C. Klaas (AWI)/S. Kasten (AWI)/A. Waite (Dalhousie University)/M. Meredith (British Antarctic Survey, BAS).
  • DeepBlue (23.6.-14.7.2022) - “Characterisation and monitoring of serpentine mude volcanoes’ fluid/solid emissions in the Mariana Forearc”, Pacific Ocean, RV Sonne (SO292), PIs: W. Menapace (MARUM)/ E. Albers (MARUM)/ A. Kopf (MARUM).
  • BISMArc (2017-2020), in collaboration with GeoZentrum Nordbayern (DFG).
  • Marine Mineral Resources - funded through the Helmholtz Association.
  • OASIS (2015-2018) - Indian Ocean, funded through BMBF.
  • Blue Mining (2014-2018) - funded through EU FP7.