After 16 days at sea and having crossed thousands of kilometers of Atlantic Ocean, the seismometer-deployment portion of the SEA-SEIS project is now complete. The Celtic Explorer returned to the port of Galway on Thursday, 5th October, and the research team from the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS) have good reason to consider the mission a success.
The Marine Institute's research vessel RV Celtic Explorer left Cobh, Co. Cork on Tuesday 25th September with DIAS scientists onboard as part of the SEA-SEIS (Structure, Evolution And Seismicity of the Irish offshore) project. Despite some challenging weather conditions along the way, "we successfully deployed all 18 seismometers to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean. The established network covers the entire Irish offshore, with seismometers also in UK and Icelandic waters," explained principal investigator Sergei Lebedev, DIAS.
Now deployed in the North Atlantic, the ocean-bottom sensors will record the tiny vibrations of the Earth caused by seismic waves, generated by earthquakes and by the ocean waves. As the waves propagate through the Earth's interior on their way to the surface and the seismic sensors, they accumulate information on the structure of the Earth that they encounter. When the seismometers are retrieved in 20 months, the data that has been collected will allow the scientists to create a 3D scan of what is inside the earth, helping them to understand the nature and history of earth beneath the Ireland's North Atlantic.
The SEA-SEIS project also involves an educational outreach component and it has had extensive engagement with schools. The seismometer-naming competition gained entries from schools all around the country and from as far away as Italy. Via video links, the scientists onboard the RV Celtic Explorer connected with twelve classrooms around the country for live questions and answer exchanges. In tandem, the Marine Institute's Explorers Education Programme has been visiting primary classrooms to raise awareness and understanding of the ocean through specially-produced lesson plans that explore seismology, SEA-SEIS and the real map of Ireland. More than 200 primary school children have been able to learn about the SEA-SEIS project and the science behind it.
"The mission was very successful, we deployed every seismometer where we had planned, they are all now on location and recording. Sharing our mission and the science behind it with the schools has been a fantastic experience, something we would like to do more off." He added: "The team worked tirelessly to make this a mission a success and we've been very fortunate to have such a great ship and crew to work with," Dr Lebedev further said.
Educational materials and resources are available at sea-seis.ie