SUBMERSE aims to utilise existing submarine cables, already used by the research and education networking community, to monitor the Earth and its systems. Identified use cases are described below.


Seismology is a scientific discipline that deals with the analysis, description, and measurement of natural and artificial seismic waves. Studying these waves allows seismologists to image the interior structure of the Earth, inferring composition, temperature and distribution of fluids. Analysis of the seismic waves excited by earthquakes are used to infer its hypocentre (latitude, longitude and depth where the earthquake rupture begins), orientation of the causative fault, and detailed distribution of the rupture. This information can be used for tsunami early warning or to get a quick understanding of affected areas, or even for detection of offshore earthquakes up to a few tens of seconds warning before strong shaking begins.


Plate tectonics describes a geological phenomenon in which parts of the Earth’s crust shift relative to each other. At one time, all the continents were united in one large supercontinent, Pangea. This shifting does not happen overnight; plate sliding occurs at a rate of several centimetres per year. The shifting causes changes and stresses in the earth’s crust that could trigger an earthquake. While these earthquakes are usually small and not noticeable, it is not uncommon for an earthquake of enormous magnitude to occur. Tectonic plates consist of continental crust, oceanic crust, or a combination of both.

Figure 1. Map of the EllaLink cable pointing out the location of GeoLab
Figure 1. Map of the EllaLink cable pointing out the location of GeoLab


The range of interactions with the seabed is diverse, with vertical and horizontal interactions occurring. For example, a vertical motion of the seafloor as caused by an earthquake. Such an interaction can be very easy to observe with the right equipment given the associated impact on the surrounding areas. Horizontal ocean-seabed interactions, however, are very difficult to observe without extensive local research at the relevant seabed location.


The Benthic zone is the ecological region at the lowest level of a body of water. This exists in all waters across the world. The organisms living within this area have a close relationship with the substrate as most of them are permanently located at the seafloor, or within the seafloor sediment. This zone varies from a few centimetres in depth to hundreds of metres. In deeper areas, this zone is strongly associated with low sunlight and low temperatures. In these areas, little biodiversity is present.


In addition to being active on land, human activity can also have an influence on the oceans. Examples of movements caused by humans include marine traffic, offshore (oil and gas or windmills), and fishing.

Figure 2. Overview of the GeoLab architecture
Figure 2. Overview of the GeoLab architecture


Humans have various effects on the marine ecosystem and, thereby, marine mammals. These effects can be structural or incidental. Incidental disturbances can arise from research, offshore industrial activities, and boat traffic. Structural influences include global over-fishing of marine mammals. Marine mammals are known to adapt their behaviour and reproductive strategy to human activity on the oceans. Studying these abiotic and biotic marine interactions can be very valuable to research on marine mammal evolution.


Cetology is part of oceanic mammal science which examines the behaviour of species in the category of Cetacea. Research of animals in this category is conducted by cetologists. The purpose of this research is to get a better understanding of the behaviour, community dynamics, and evolution of these animals, for example dolphins, orcas, and porpoises. These animals spend just 10% of their time above the ocean’s surface which makes it extremely difficult and time-consuming to track them and conduct research.

Skip to content