The "deep sea" is maritime space that is separate from coastal waters but influences them and is influenced by them. It extends from the deepest areas up to the point where the sea bed is affected by wave motion. Given the difficulty of access and the vastness of its domain, the deep sea is our most important frontier in terms of both scientific knowledge and industrial applications (www.ecord.org/enet/dsf-june2007.pdf).
Deep-sea environments are characterised by a complex system of interactions between biosphere and geosphere. These environments, which account for 95% of the area of the ocean and 80% of marine waters within the Italian Exclusive Economic Zone, modulate the global climate by means of ocean circulation. They also guarantee the future of marine resources, supporting the largest biome and the greatest biodiversity on the planet, and host huge energy and mineral resources.
As well as supporting direct industrial applications for the management of resources and the mitigation of risk, deep-sea research can act as a strong stimulus for technological development, in that the equipment required is extremely complex (e.g. autonomous vehicles for remote surveying, instruments that can be used in extreme physical and chemical conditions, intricate networks of data transmission and environmental monitoring). Such equipment has immediate fields of application in the exploitation of mineral resources (on the sea bed and below it), risk mitigation (tsunami warning systems, wave-meters, monitoring of environmental parameters) and in regional planning (laying of cables and underwater pipelines, management of activities with impacts)
In this sub-project, the areas in which knowledge and quantification of deep-sea bed processes can be increased by means of a coordinated and interdisciplinary effort on the part of marine sciences have been subdivided into four Work Packages:
WP1 - Planning of the Deep Marine Environment and the Open Sea
WP2 - Mapping of habitats, human impacts and ecosystem services
WP3 - Extreme environments deep marine biodiversity and biotechnology
WP4 - Variability of oceanographic dynamics, impact on deep sea ecosystems and future scenarios
SP leader Francesco Latino Chiocci - CONISMA