Ocean-Earth interactions

Scientific Context

The Earth’s sediments, crust, and mantle are in constant interaction with the ocean. This interaction drives a global bioreactor, where animal and microbial life thrive in close association with geological substrates including sediments, seeps, vents, and the crust itself.

Deep earth and tectonic processes shape ocean structure and material transfer at the largest of scales. On the one hand, these processes may pose geological hazards, yet, on the other, they give the ocean floor abundant petroleum, mineral and even biotechnological resources.

This theme relies on our strong track record of deep sea exploration and discovery (leadership of major international cruises using manned and unmanned underwater vehicles):

– studying geobiological interactions and life in extreme environments (LabexMER axis 3, ERC EARTHBLOOM, MICROBSEA international laboratory, CNRS-INEE).

– quantifying source-to-sink sediment flows along the continent-ocean continuum (LabexMER axis 4; PAMELA project with TOTAL).

– monitoring tectonic activity and associated hazards (Maregami ANR project in the Marmara Sea near Istanbul).

Specific Objectives

This Theme projects will include:

• Understanding the generation of the Earth’s crust, its structure, and its fate at ocean margins, through ship-based surveys, seismic and hydroacoustic observation, modelling, and geochemical studies.

• Developing our capacity to explore and exploit deep ocean mineral resources by understanding their genesis and distribution, legal and economic issues and potential impacts if exploited, and by developing new materials and instruments to operate at depth.

• Providing more robust assessments of geological hazards at sea and at the
land-ocean interface (e.g. volcanism, submarine landslides, earthquakes,

• Describing and understanding the unique biology of the deep ocean
microbial and animal biosphere through in-situ monitoring of species and
their physical and chemical deep ocean environment, physiological studies,
lab culturing and enrichment experiments, and meta- omics techniques.

• Examining economic and legal dimensions of regulations applying to deep sea exploitation.