Tuesday, 20 June 2017

STRONGMAR is an EU funded project ( with the aim of creating productive links in the global field of marine science and technology between INESC TEC and established leading research institutions, thereby helping raising INESC TEC staff’s research profile and its recognition as a European maritime research centre of excellence.

This workshop is supported by STRONGMAR and will bring together some experts in the field of ocean sensing. They will cover current technologies, challenges, and their vision for the future. Delegates attending the workshop will be able to have an informal discussion with the presenters and put across their own thoughts. The aim of the workshop is to share ideas and create partnerships towards further research collaborations.

Workshop Schedule:

Emerging technologies for sensing the biogeochemistry of the deep sea

Prof. Matthew Mowlem, National Oceanography Centre, UK

Tackling metrology in the ocean exploration context

Dr. Christoph Waldmann, MARUM, University of Bremen

Deep sea mineral exploration

Dr. Blair Thornton, University of Southampton & University of Tokyo

STRONGMAR Thematic Workshop: Sensing the Deep Sea – II (1600 – 1800)

Laser-based sensors and systems for next generation robotic undersea exploration

Dr. Fraser Dalgleish, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, USA

Perception technologies for underwater mining

Prof. Eduardo Silva, ISEP / INESC TEC, Porto

Sensing the opportunity

Dr. Gordon Drummond, National Subsea Research Institute, UK

Summaries of Presentations:

Emerging Technologies for Sensing the biogeochemistry of the deep sea

Prof. Matthew Mowlem, National Oceanography Centre, UK (

Measurement of deep sea biology and chemistry can be used to improve our understanding of natural biogeochemical processes and to enable better management of human activity and impacts in the deep. For example measurement of chemical fluxes from the sea floor have utility in energy exploration, methane hydrate stability assessment, environmental impact assessment, and baselining and assurance of seal integrity in offshore carbon capture and storage reservoirs. These measurements are traditionally made from remotely acquired samples that are subsequently analysed with laboratory equipment. However, whilst technically challenging, there are a number of advantages for making these measurements with submerged sensor systems, especially if these are mounted on remotely deployed or autonomous observing systems such as robotic submarines. The technical challenges include the restrictions imposed by: the observing systems (the sensors must be small, low power, small net buoyancy or buoyancy change); the environment (tolerance to high pressure, wide range of temperature, dilute samples requiring low limits of detection / integration of large samples); and the economics of observing operations (for many applications this means low cost of operation and low capital and integration costs). This talk provides examples of emerging sensing technologies for measurement of chemical and biological parameters in the deep sea and focuses on microfluidic or "lab on chip" based sensing systems which enable high metrology performance by using assays that employ reagents and optical or electrical detection of the analytical response. The wide range of available reagent based assays enables this technology to measure a wide range of parameters include nutrients, trace metals, the aquatic carbonate (CO2) system, particulates, pathogens, parasites, bacteria, viruses, phytoplankton and eDNA. Application examples and proof of concept deployments will be presented.

Tackling metrology in the ocean exploration context

Dr. Christoph Waldmann, MARUM, University of Bremen (

Ocean science interest has turned more and more to long-term observations to improve model evaluation and prediction. This raises the requirements on the performance of the sensors involved that already have to fulfil high standards in regard to accuracy and long-term stability. With the advent of different measuring principles and the employment of a number of different measuring platforms the need for ensuring inter-comparability of the collected data is in the focus of today’s efforts. In the International Vocabulary on Metrology there is actually a specific term, “Metrological Compatibility of measurement results”, that is closely connected to this endeavour. As a consequence metrology methods and principles are increasingly considered and used. For instance, the development of TEOS 10 is closely connected to the systematic evaluation of existing salinity measurement methods in regard to traceability of those methods to SI units. Building up on that the European Metrology Research Program has supported projects that had addressed the traceability of physical and biochemical parameters in ocean observations. These activities are continued in EC funded projects like AtlantOS and NeXOS.

The presentation will cover relevant aspects of metrology, give an overview on the current status for selected parameters, and recommendations on next steps towards introducing metrology principles for all relevant ocean parameters.

Deep sea mineral exploration

Dr. Blair Thornton, University of Southampton & University of Tokyo (

The limited availability of time and high costs associated with operating scientific research vessels is a major bottleneck in our ability to study seafloor environments. Mineral exploration is no exception, and involves first locating prospective deposits, assessing their grade and tonnage, and then their economic value. This tasks of gathering information is constrained by not only by the physical limitations of the platforms and instruments that access these remote environments, but also by factors such as weather, scheduling and logistics that are beyond the control of the scientists and engineers involved in their use. In order to optimise the return from our efforts, surveys should ideally be planned in a hierarchical way, with each effort informing subsequent efforts to build up a model of the environment that is increasingly refined in regions that are most relevant. However, technologies available today tend to have large gaps in the resolutions and extents at which they make observations, which limits how effectively information from one sensor can be used to inform strategies for data collection, or conversely be used to interpret data collected, by another. This talk will look at some recent developments in platform and sensor technology and consider how these can be combined with relevant scientific expertise to fill in some of the gaps in our current capabilities.

Laser-based Sensors and Systems for Next Generation Robotic Undersea Exploration

Dr. Fraser Dalgleish, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, USA (

The oceans cover more than 70% of Earth’s surface, support much of the biodiversity and provide incalculable living and nonliving resources.  Despite their importance, the oceans remain largely unexplored: as much as 95% of the oceans and 99% of the ocean floor remain to be explored.  With so much to be known, discoveries in this context tend to be transformative, underscoring the value and importance of developing new technologies to more effectively conduct undersea exploration.  This talk will discuss some recent developments in the area of in situ laser-based sensors designed to be operable from unmanned robotic platforms that will advance our capability in characterizing important ocean phenomenon and provide quality imagery and data that will allow scientists to discover new environments, organisms and understand phenomena at scales ranging from sub-micron to mesoscale.

Sensing the Opportunity

Dr. Gordon Drummond, National Subsea Research Institute, UK (

NSRI, The National Subsea Research Initiative operates in all industrial sectors specifically; oil and gas, offshore wind, wave and tidal, subsea mining, defence and ocean science. It is therefore well placed to understand the technological challenges regarding sensors and interpretation of sensory data for these industrial sectors.

The presentation will focus on communicating these sensory challenges. It will draw upon a particular event held by NSRI earlier in the year where through a workshop held in conjunction with CENSIS and DATALAB (two of Scotland’s innovation centres) which examined strategies for condition monitoring and predictive maintenance and failure of oil and gas architecture. This event highlighted opportunities for the developer community to focus upon. 

The presentation will additionally identify sensing opportunities that are required in the other industrial sectors previously outlined. 

Gold Patron

Oceans OES
Marine Technology Society

 Gold Patron

Subsea UK


University of Aberdeen
The Robert Godon University
Visit Aberdeen

Associated Societies

Society for Underwater Technology   The Challenger Society for Marine Sciences Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology Institute of Physics