Seafloor Monitoring Observatory Deployed in an Underwater Volcano

Jan 30 2019



EGEL Research Scientists, Dr. Jiming Jiang and Dr. Marco Terzariol have developed the technology to gather unique data from the seafloor in a highly cost-effective manner.

Last Fall, in collaboration with Dr. Eugenio Fraile Nuez and Dr. Txetxu Arrieta from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, Dr. Terzariol and Dr. Jiang successfully deployed and recovered the first pilot test of the EGEL Seafloor Monitoring Observatory (SMO) from Tagoro, an underwater volcano near the island of El Hierro in the Canary Islands. Their unique field trip aimed to investigate the outflow periodicity of thermal vents in the crater of the volcano by collecting physical, mechanical and chemical data during the four day deployment.


The five nodes recorded temperature, electrical conductivity, pH, water pressure, magnetic susceptibility, accelerations, acoustic waves (using hydrophones) and ground motion with geophones. Approximately 380 hours of data were recorded with millions of data points per second. The analysis of this data will keep EGEL researchers and students busy for several weeks to come.


This exciting study will lead to a deeper understanding of volcanic activity and could be directly applied to other volcanoes around the world, leading to earlier detection of potential eruptions. It will also increase our knowledge of geo-plumbing and may even provide clues about the beginnings of life.


Now Dr. Jiang and Dr. Terzariol are preparing new deployments to monitor geologic platforms and to study the impact of mega-cities in pristine waters such as the Red Sea. These efforts will lead to journal publications and will form the bases of their own startup, 'Vythos', co-founded with Professor Santamarina.

Learn more about Dr. Santamarina's Energy Geoengineering Laboratory here.