Submarine observatories monitoring biotic and abiotic factors over time



European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and Water Column Observatory (Portugal)

EMSO-PT is a European Large Scale Research Infrastructure, consisting of multidisciplinary underwater observatories and other data processing support infrastructures. The goal of EMSO-PT is to generate continuous scientific data on marine environmental processes related to the interaction between the geosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere. This data is open access to all stakeholders.

EMSO-PT is composed of members of R&D institutions that integrate technology and science. Developing advanced instrumentation and technology is in line with national and European priorities, and is part of the European EMSO-ERIC initiative.

EMSO-ERIC is a consortium of 8 countries (France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Romania, and Spain) with the aim of forming a European-wide sea floor and water column monitoring network.

Geodynamics and magmatic systems
Climate and greenhouse gases
Ocean productivity and dynamics
Marine mammals and fishing stocks
Renewable marine resources
Extreme episodes and catastrophes
Origin and limits of life
Dynamics of marine ecosystems


EMSO-PT identifies eight key scientific issues related to oceans and associated resources.

These topics are in line with the themes identified by EMSO-ERIC.


To establish a network for monitoring the seafloor and the water column, contributing to greater scientific knowledge and more informed policies.

The fulfillment of the EMSO-PT objective implies the generation of scientific data that consequently, will provide more effective and efficient management of maritime spaces and their natural resources.

The main form of data generation will be through the installation of underwater observatories. These stations will acquire a set of biotic and abiotic parameters of the ocean floor and water column, namely  temperature, salinity, turbidity, acoustics, currents, dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Data processing will be done through the channels defined within EMSO-ERIC, allowing for the  integration and availability of data acquired by all European partners.


The observatories that make up EMSO-PT are based on
the EMSO-ERIC consortium guidelines that include new R&D technologies developed by EMSO-PT members.

In addition to the submarine observatories, there are land-based facilities for processing the samples collected during the installation and maintenance operations of the submarine observatories.


The deep ocean starts after the continental shelf ends, which is typically at about 200 metres depth. It represents about 80% of the total volume of the oceans.

As such, the deep ocean is one of the most complex and extensive ecosystems on the planet, and yet it is poorly understood.

Continuous environmental monitoring of the ocean floor and deep ocean is imperative if we are to manage and protect these vast regions. Such monitoring and deep ocean studies are now a legal obligation for member states with maritime jurisdiction.

In conjunction to this, the knowledge of mineral resources in the deep sea as well as hydrocarbons, will define future regulations. Hence, the data acquired by submarine observatories allow the timely detection of significant changes in the water column or the seafloor.

Several initiatives have been launched around the world for the installation of deep-sea and water column observatories, namely  DONET (Japan), and Neptune (USA and Canada).


Science article on the ““Portuguese European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and Water Column Observatory Initiative” published in Frontiers in Marine Science
Members of IPMA’s Research Vessels and Observatories Unit have published the article “Portuguese European Multidisciplinary…
Fatima Abrantes receives the AGU 2021 Ambassador Award
EMSO-PT member Fátima Abrantes is the recipient of the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Ambassador 2021…
Data portal – new video tutorials available
EMSO ERIC has released a series of tutorials helping users to work with all data…



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