Part 3
Projects & Landmarks
Environment / Landmark


European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water-column Observatory

Interactive, real-time ocean observation systems to address societal and scientific challenges


The European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water-column Observatory (EMSO) is a European Research Infrastructure that includes open-ocean, seafloor observatories down to 4.850 metres depth, and shallow-water test sites from the Northeast Atlantic, across the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. EMSO acquires high-quality environmental data and represents a major asset for researchers who have access to multidisciplinary data to respond to pressing scientific and societal challenges. These data cover a multi- and inter-disciplinary range of research areas including biology, geology, chemistry, physics, engineering and computer science, from polar to tropical environments, down to the abyss. The data generated in EMSO allow facing multivariate questions over different space and time scales, overcoming the traditional approach of focusing on single data streams.

EMSO is a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) since 2016, with the goal of ensuring long-term, sustained, continuous data streams from the ocean, the majority of the biosphere of our planet.


EMSO is an array of seafloor and water-column observatories distributed across Europe seas. EMSO provides crucial data for the understanding of fundamental processes in the marine domain that is significant for a number of short, medium and long-term events such as global change or catastrophic episodes with slow patterns that are difficult to discern with short sampling due to long-term processes variability. The high resolution, long-time-series collection of multiple variables across a breadth of environments represents the only approach capable of shedding light on the complexity of these systems and is required to document and predict episodic events, such as earthquakes, submarine slides, tsunamis, benthic storms, biodiversity changes, pollution, and gas hydrate (methane) release. Climate change, ocean ecosystem disturbance, and marine hazards represent urgent scientific and societal challenges and EMSO is designed to provide relevant data at an unprecedented level of accuracy, consistency, comparability, and continuity at the regional scale. In real-time it also generates long-term measurements of ocean parameters.

The interactive monitoring capacity of EMSO allows tracking these critical changes and delivering knowledge and tools to enable Europe to evaluate strategies to prepare and adapt to these changes. EMSO allows the pooling of resources and expertise, and coordination to assemble harmonised data into a comprehensive regional ocean image, which will then be made available to researchers and stakeholders worldwide via an open and interoperable data access system.


EMSO offers opportunities for hosting new hi-tech jobs and spurring development of innovative applications and services in strategic industry sectors such as fishing and tourism, renewable energy, deep-sea mining, offshore industry. EMSO has already started to generate significant socio-economic benefits; advanced training and support services (incubator, testing) for industry, particularly for SMEs; high quality educational and services for academic and mass media; a lobby group for marine research policy, innovation and ethics for government; and education and citizen science interactivity for the general public.

The accurate and timely environmental information gained with EMSO will nourish mitigation and protection strategies of challenges and threats including geo-hazards, habitat loss, human and animal migration, and food security, including anthropogenic damage to marine-related industry activities, tourism, recreation and aesthetics.

legal status
ERIC, 2016
political support
lead country
members countries
The full list of research institutions involved must be found in the website of the RI
Roadmap Entry
Preparation Phase
Implementation/Construction Phase
Operation Start
estimated costs
capital value
Not Available
5.4 M€
137.8 M€
20 M€/year

Rome, Italy