Conducting surveys of sub-sea environments

Part of what we do at ABYSSA entails conducting surveys to draw up inventories of sub-sea environments and resources, to depths of 6000 metres.

ABYSSA's survey system

Using different sensors and probes, data acquired by ABYSSA’s survey system can be used to respond to, or help respond to, various issues addressed by communities and authorities responsible for the deep oceans in their care, by the international community and by industrial operators.

This may include (non-exhaustive list):

  • Locating and assessing the potential and the nature of resources and deposits (topo-bathymetry, substrate, hydrology, typology of mineral resources, etc.)
  • Assesing the richness and sensitivity of ecosystems (topo-bathymetry, major ecosystems, specific biodiversity, hydrology, currents and water-column density, etc.)
  • Monitoring climate change: (carbon capture and transfer, recycling organic matter, hydrology (pH), currents and water-column density, flow, etc.)
  • Locating and characterising underwater objects (topo-bathymetry, magnetometry, imaging, etc.)

The table below shows the five major categories of resources inventoried by ABYSSA

© Ifremer/MNHN, KANADEEP2, 2019 –

Forms and facies

  • Extensive and detailed mapping
  • Bathymetry
  • Nature of substrata
  • Subsea/sea-surface structures
  • Key types of facies (hydrothermal springs, sea mounts, ridges, abyssal plains, etc.)
  • Magnetometry

© Ifremer/CNRS, MOMARSAT, 2020 –

Geological and mineral resources

  • Metallic mineral resources (polymetallic nodules, cobalt-rich crusts, seafloor massive sulphide)
  • Non-metallic resources (aggregates, phosphates)

© Ifremer/MNHN, KANADEEP2, 2019 –

Biological resources

  • Biodiversity
  • Major deep-sea ecosystems (hydrothermal oases, cold-water corals, etc.)

© Ifremer/CNRS, MOMARSAT, 2020 –

Hydrological and energy resources

  • Hydrodynamics and currents
  • Temperature/salinity
  • Turbidity
  • Oxygen/pH
  • CO2/Organic matter
  • Flow (methane, hydrogen, etc.)
  • Seeps/plumes

Cultural heritage and underwater objects

  • Military shipwrecks
  • Wrecks (fishing and sea transport vessels, as well as aircraft)
  • Wrecks from expeditions and voyages of discovery
  • Treasure
  • Submarine cables and pipelines