Marine Institute

RV Celtic Explorer completes successful Eurofleets cruise in the North Sea

August 21, 2012

Eurofleet Team The RV Celtic Explorer has recently completed a successful Eurofleets two week (20th July – 6th August) survey CE12010 in the North Sea. The expedition was led by Dr Peter Linke from Geomar and used the Kiel 6000 ROV and the ship time for the survey was funded under the Eurofleets project.

Eurofleets is a research infrastructure project under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission. The Eurofleets project aims to bring together the European research fleets to enhance their co-ordination and promote the cost effective use of their facilities. Ireland's contribution of two research vessels, the RV Celtic Explorer and the RV Celtic Voyager, opens up access to a pan European fleet of research vessels for Irish scientists.

The survey CE12010 is part of the FP7 Funded ECO2 project and is investigating the environmental impact of Sub-seabed storage of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) in the sediments within the marine ecosystems. This is being performed at existing CO2 storage sites in the North Sea and the Barents Sea paired with a comparison of natural gas emission at the seafloor.

After a complex mobilisation of the RV Celtic Explorer taking over 2.5 days, the team departed to the first of two work areas in the North Sea.

The first survey was completed in the Norwegian gas field "Sleipner", where CO2 has been stored by Statoil for many years, to trace the spreading of a limited amount of CO2 in the sea water and to test the sensitivity of the sensors.

The second site investigated was at the "Blow out" crater location in UK waters in the North Sea, where high quantities of methane have been emitted for more than 20 years. The long-term release experiment can be used to estimate how much methane is emitted from the seafloor and its resultant distribution in the water column. Furthermore, it can be used as a natural laboratory to study the establishment of microbial communities, which are capable of consuming this methane and may hinder the emission of the green house gas into the atmosphere.

The survey was very successful with the team experienced perfect weather throughout the survey which enabled them to fully complete their complex work program.

Eurofleets survey CE12010 (20th July – 6th August) in the North Sea was completed as part of the Eurofleets grant agreement no. 228344.