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Content archived on 2024-04-30

The remote detection of sediment instability on the European continental margin and slope


The objective of POSEIDON is to develop and build a European capability for remotely detecting, mapping and monitoring deep-sea sediment instabilities. Such sediment instability on European continental margins is a major geological hazard which is becoming economically important as hydrocarbon exploration moves into deeper waters and cable and pipeline companies lay increasing numbers of structures on the seabed. The instruments and techniques developed in this project will be of importance to other MAST II and III projects such as ENAM, STEAM, MTP and others all of which include sediment instability studies. The project integrates the skills and techniques currently under development in a number of dispersed European laboratories, capitalising on the strengths of each. A major part of the project will be the training of young researchers, and these researchers will gain a unique insight into equipment development and the facilities available in various European countries.
The work is divided into a number of tasks - the most important of which is the development of new instruments to measure both remote and in situ seabed properties. Remote (towed) instruments will measure the 3-D acoustic structure of the seabed, and in situ instruments will measure the geotechnical and geoacoustic properties of these sediments to ground-truth the remote measurements. These instruments will then be tested at two different sites, both of which are known to be unstable, on the European continental margin and used to make maps of acoustic properties.
The data collected at the two sites will be integrated with existing data sets and modelled to determine those features of the remotely collected data which indicate instability and the likely degree of that instability. This will eventually lead to a rapid method for remotely detecting unstable sedimented slopes.
We already know that sediment instability takes many forms, producing an array of sedimentary features. To take all of these into account it will be necessary to build a database of these features and their acoustic signatures for a range of different environments. We will design such a database for the easy manipulation, cross-correlation and modelling of remote and in-situ data relating to sediment instability.
This project will therefore provide new techniques for identifying sediment instability on continental margins and will set standards for quantifying the level of instability.

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Empress Dock, European Way
United Kingdom

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Participants (8)