SP4 - Planning of the Deep Marine Environment and the Open Sea

The deep sea RITMARE sub-project 4 studies the various processes and geological, biological, oceanographic features in the deep marine domain (i.e. beyond the continental shelf and in open sea); this environment is of limited accessibility and great extension and for this reason it is poorly known and potentially one of the most promising for scientific and technological research and for the future management of geological, biological and energy resources.

The strong interdisciplinary approach that has characterized the entire subproject led to the creation of joint campaigns in the Ligurian Sea, the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Adriatic Sea, merging the skills of the most active Italian research groups, joint together in a shared and coordinated research effort. The results (that were timely reached) range from the identification of new genes of biotechnological interest to the mapping of authigenic minerals at the seabed, from the definition of the organisms response to superficial mixing due to anomalous weather to the development of methods for habitat mapping and biodiversity assessment in abyssal environment; they will be better described in the activities of the four work packages in which the subproject is divided.

The researches conducted are an extremely important step in order to understand the dynamics of the deep marine environment in general and that of the Italian seas in particular; in fact, for the first time coordinated research and large resources were specifically dedicated to the deep sea with a significant amount of data collected, and because specific expertise have been developed, in terms of new recruits funded by Phd and post-doc fellowships but also in terms of collaboration between groups belonging to different scientific areas, institutes and disciplines. All this suggests that, beyond the concrete results of the individual research, the RITMARE project will be a reference point for the study of an environment, difficult, promising and fascinating as it is the deep sea.