The European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water column Observatory (EMSO) participated by 8 Member States (Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Ireland, Norway, Greece, and Romania)  is a unique marine multidisciplinary, distributed Research Infrastructure, with the goal to explore, monitor and better understand the phenomena happening within and below the oceans and their critical impact on the Earth.

Inserted in the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmap in 2006, in 2016 EMSO has the status of European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) by the European Commission. EMSO brings together diverse and numerous scientific partners, Institutes and Research Centres operating in key sites in European seas, from North East to the Atlantic, through the Mediterranean, to the Black Sea, in a common strategic framework of scientific facilities (data, instruments, computing and storage capacity) to promote and drive advances in marine science and technology while enabling access to its services, facilities and technology platforms.

EMSO research infrastructure provides relevant information for defining environmental policies based on scientific data, covering a wide range of interdisciplinary areas including biology, geology, chemistry, physics, engineering and computer science, from polar to tropical environments, down to the abyss.

Through the valuable contribution of its 14 observatory and test sites, equipped with multiple sensors, placed along the water column and on the seafloor that constantly measure different biogeochemical and physical parameters, EMSO delivers and offers data and services to a large and diverse group of users, from scientists and industries to institutions and policy makers, to better address global challenges, such as climate trends, marine ecosystem preservation, and marine geo-hazards generation and mitigation.

EMSO achieved in 2021 the Certification of Compliance to ISO 9001:2015 standard for the “Design, coordination, and development of environmental research activities on seafloor and water-column” and since 2024 has been deploying the ISO 14001, the internationally recognized standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS).


EMSO ERIC will become a world-class Marine Research Infrastructure providing high-quality information on the significance and the dynamics of the deep oceans and the water column, to address global ocean environmental challenges that affect the Earth System, and impact the welfare of society.

High-quality and timely marine environmental information will nourish mitigation and protection strategies in the face of significant challenges and threats, such as natural disasters, habitat loss, human and species migration, and food security, together with the deprivation due to marine-related industry activities, tourism, and recreation.

EMSO ERIC will provide bio-geophysical, and chemical information needed to monitor the impact of climate change on the ocean system, mitigation of geo-hazards risk, and progress in deep-sea habitat mapping. EMSO ERIC will promote the creation of new hi-tech jobs, and spur the development of innovative applications and services in strategic industrial sectors such as marine robotics, blue biotech, offshore aquaculture, seabed resources, smart submarine cables, marine renewable energy, pharmaceutical, fishing and tourism.



EMSO ERIC aims at promoting the advance in the knowledge of deep ocean and water column
processes, through the monitoring, analysis and dissemination of data retrieved by observatories, or similar instruments, able to ensure long-term repeated observations of the state of the ocean. These observations, which include Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) and other physical and environmental variables, follow FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable).

The overarching goal is to better understand the complex interactions between the geosphere, the biosphere, the hydrosphere and atmosphere, and to address the major environmental challenges in the thematic areas of Climate Change, Marine Ecosystems and Geo-hazards.

EMSO ERIC approach is based on the generation of high-value data by a distributed network of regional facilities operated and maintained by its partners, but sharing the same quality level and a harmonized set of observables.

EMSO ERIC continuous time-series multidisciplinary data, going from the sea surface to the deep seabed, and sub-seafloor address many key processes that affect the entire ocean. The volume of data and information provided by EMSO ERIC allows the description of processes ranging from extreme episodic events to slow trends, difficult to distinguish from the underlying variability of short-term processes.

The continuous, high-resolution, long-time-series collection of multiple variables at chosen fixed sites across a breadth of environments pursued by EMSO, allows for the development of new approaches to shed light on the complexities of the Earth System.

EMSO ERIC multi-parameter long time-series document and study a broad range of critical episodic events that cannot be addressed by classical short-term marine expeditions:

climate change, benthic storms, biodiversity changes, anthropogenic pollution, and gas hydrate (methane) release, dense water cascades, plankton blooms, water mass movements and the influence of eddies, earthquakes, submarine slides and tsunamis.

Innovation fostered by EMSO ERIC will provide the means and the skills to study the complex and fragile deep ocean environments, now under scrutiny related to seabed mining exploration.

EMSO ERIC aims at ensuring the following tasks:

  • To monitor and sustain in situ a long time series of oceanographic and biogeochemical variables, and geo-hazards, enabling the understanding of anthropogenic impacts of climate change.
  • To offer comprehensive in situ biogeochemical datasets on the European seas to improve biogeochemical and ecosystem modelling. Dissolved CO2 monitoring is useful to monitor progressive ocean acidification and promote the preservation of marine ecosystems.
  • To complement national seismological networks data on seafloor acceleration occurring near the EMSO ERIC Regional Facilities that may impact coastal areas within the European Seas.
  • To advance science-based Ocean Policy, providing relevant deep-sea information to EOOS.
  • To enhance and promote Copernicus applications, products, and services, focusing on the role of deep ocean processes.
  • To support the implementation of European research and innovation policies and strategies (e.g., Marine Strategy Framework Directive).
  • To develop technologies, fostered by the needs of EMSO ERIC partners, to improve the environmental monitoring, measurement quality, and supporting logistics fostering a multiplatform approach. Climate change, leading to the alteration of ocean ecosystems in different habitats, increased marine hazards and ocean pollution, is the urgent scientific and societal challenge that is at the heart of the EMSO ERIC mission.