Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

KArstic submarine fReshwater Springs

Project description

Submarine springs in karstic environments

Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) introduces nutrients to coastal areas, affecting ecological systems. In karstic settings, SGDs mainly occur from submarine springs which are difficult to locate but can be identified through sea-surface changes in very shallow areas. The EU-funded KARST project will identify and characterise the distribution of submarine springs and their influence on local ecosystems in karstic environments. In shallow coastal areas, less than 5 m deep, unmanned aerial vehicles will simultaneously image and correlate biological habitats and sea-surface anomalies related to submarine springs. A newly developed geoelectric system will be combined with multibeam imaging techniques to explore the physical behaviour of the water column and seagrass distribution around deeper situated springs.

Objective

Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) is the flow of fresh or recirculated groundwater into the ocean. This process introduces substantial amounts of nutrients to coastal areas, which significantly influences ecological systems. In karstic settings SGD dominantly occurs from submarine springs that manifest as point source discharge sites. Their identification generally relies on sea-surface changes (e.g. visual sea-surface anomalies or changes in sea-surface temperature) and is therefore confined to shallow areas with high discharge rates. As a result the distribution of offshore freshwater springs in karstic environments, which is crucial for determining the architecture and dissemination of offshore groundwater systems, is usually poorly constrained. Similarly, the negative effects of groundwater springs on seagrass diversity and biomass have been investigated at individual springs but have not been characterised over larger areas. This proposal focuses on the identification, characterisation and distribution of submarine springs and their influence on local ecosystems in karstic environments. KARST will make use of state of the art geophysical and remote sensing techniques for optimal imaging at various depths. In the shallow coastal areas (<~5 m), unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with multispectral and thermal infrared cameras will be used to simultaneously image and correlate biological habitats and sea-surface anomalies related to submarine springs. In deeper areas, a newly developed geoelectric system from the University of Kiel in combination with multibeam water column imaging techniques will provide insight into the physical behaviour of the water column as well as salinity and seagrass distribution around springs. All techniques will be guided by biological sampling and flow rate measurements, which will not only help to determine the ecological effects of SGD but will also provide valuable knowledge on the architecture of karstic groundwater systems.

Coordinator

UNIVERSITA TA MALTA
Net EU contribution
€ 148 049,28
Address
Tal oroqq
2080 Msida
Malta

See on map

Region
Malta Malta Malta
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Other funding
€ 0,00