SUBMERSE: SUBMarine cablEs for ReSearch and Exploration

 This proposal responds to the call Next generation of scientific instrumentation, tools and methods (2022) (HORIZON-INFRA-2022-TECH-01). The proposal seeks to directly address the challenges to develop a new world-class research instrument integrating already existing NREN and EPOS infrastructures and Copernicus Marine service, from three European nations, as well as Pan-European and Pan-American institutions, to disseminate FAIR compliant State of Polarisation and Distributed Acoustic Sensor data, gathered from the same, already installed, live, telecommunications submarine optical fibres, in a temporally consistent and geographically dispersed way. Such an instrument would deliver innovative scientific instrumentation, methods and tools as well as advancing the involved research infrastructures by developing new state of the art services and long-term data sets of unique scientific value.

This project will enable continuous recording of these types of data for research use by NRENs for the first time, thus supporting of diverse academic, industrial and governmental user communities. Through the integration with EPOS data infrastructure , existing research communities in solid earth (EPOS) and marine science (EMSO), industrial and public body communities can be complimented with entirely new types of data sets unavailable to them before, which it is believed will lead to new areas of research.

SUBMERSE (SUBMarine cablEs for ReSearch and Exploration) is an innovative EU-funded project which aims to utilise existing submarine cables, already used by the research and education networking community, to monitor the Earth and its systems. By utilising existing equipment and infrastructure in a new way, the project not only avoids the need for extra hardware under the sea, but also improves the return on investment by enhancing and widening its use.

SUBMERSE is a collaboration between 24 parties:

  • 18 partners (including the coordinator),
  • 5 affiliated partners,
  • and 1 associated partner.

The 36-month project will work closely with the diverse research communities who intend on using the data, to design and build the data generation service together, thereby creating a highly collaborative environment where data is generated by and for all parties. In this way, SUBMERSE goes beyond the traditional model of supporting and facilitating global research and education with infrastructure, to an environment where project partners and research communities together generate and share research from that infrastructure for multiple purposes.

Over the past five years, national seismic and oceanographic infrastructures, together with NRENs, and partners from universities, research institutes, and industry in parts of Europe have pioneered techniques to use submarine optical fibres to monitor the Earth and its systems. The methods and technologies used vary. However, two techniques show promise in the detail and scalability of their deployment: Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) and State of Polarisation (SoP). The geographic locations where experiments have taken place, the length of experiments, the types of technologies used, and technological readiness levels of those technologies used also vary substantially from country to country.

The level of technological development and cooperation between infrastructures associated with this field is now mature enough to aim for the next paradigm change: making data available from continuous observations on multiple existing submarine optical fibre telecommunication cables, using a standardised technological configuration, at a continental scale, available to the wider scientific community, civil society, and industry.

The SUBMERSE project seeks to create and deliver a pilot activity which would serve as a blueprint for continuous monitoring upon many more cables in the future, which would lead to the opening of new market opportunities and the demonstration of methods to maximise the investments in research infrastructures, by using the by-products of their operations for the purposes of new scientific research. This would lead to the integration of established regional and national research infrastructures, thereby enabling world-class European research not possible before.

All partners are excited to begin work on this highly innovative project. We have an opportunity here to do something really quite amazing, making use of existing infrastructure to provide a world of new data and, together with the research communities making use of this data, potentially make new discoveries!
European Innovation Council under Grant SUBMERSE: 101095055