The EU project “European Multidisciplinary Seafloor Observatory Infrastructure” (EMSO) aims to provide an implementation plan for the construction of seafloor observatories.

A network of research institutes will attempt to find a joint solution to legal, technological, economical and organizational issues, as even the seafloor is a stage for many conflicting interests: Fishermen, environmentalists and the navy are just some interest groups wanting to have a say in the construction of an observatory.

Economical issues include the costs of building and running an observatory, as well as possible sources of funding. Currently, the mere costs of construction are estimated at 100 to 200 million Euros. Thus, only partners whose national investors have signalled fundamental interest in the programme are allowed to participate in the EMSO project. Currently, EU funds for the project amount to 4 million Euros.

The EMSO project will encompass detailed plans for five distinct locations. These plans will provide a basis on which to build new observatories and to extend existing infrastructures. In turn, the participating European member states are to sign a declaration of intent, in which they each specify their direct contribution to developing the EMSO infrastructure. Communication and co-ordination among the future operators of the seafloor observatories is an important prerequisite for the efficient use of this European research infrastructure.

Design of a seafloor observatory: