Key events in 2013

COLMEIA cruise

As part of collaboration between the Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer (IUEM) and Ifremer (Geosciences), the laboratory of Geochemistry and Metallogeny took part in the scientific cruise COLMEIA from 23 January to 28 February 2013. The cruise was piloted by the IUEM. It took place in international and Brazilian waters around St Peter and St Paul Archipelago. The objectives of the cruise were:

- to understand the long-term thermal regime of this part of the Atlantic,

- to determine the nature of the zone's crust and the oceanic lithosphere and also the outcropping process of deep crustal rock,

- to search for signs of hydrothermal activity, on-board analysis of methane and manganese.

FUTUNA - Phase 2: 2013-2018

Further to the cruises already conducted during the Futuna project, a number of discussions have been held between project partners (Eramet and Technip) and in particular on the analyses of samples and the extension of mineralized zones. Ifremer has proposed a cruise strategy for a new exploration phase over 5 years to include objectives aiming at determining the limit of mineralized zones and localising inactive sites, conducting the first environmental  studies on the most promising sites and geophysical and boring operations to apprehend the nature and thickness of mineralization.


During the 32nd session of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf at the UN headquarters in New York from 23-29 August, the French delegation presented 3 applications for extension: an addendum to the joint application with South Africa off the archipelago of Crozet and Prince Edwards Islands; the application off Reunion Island and Saint Paul Amsterdam; the joint application with Tuvalu and Tokelau off Wallis and Futuna. France has made six applications since 2009 for nine distinct geographical zones throughout the world's oceans. Three applications have already been validated by the CLCS and the examination of a fourth application should begin towards the end of 2014.

PIA TANDEM: Future investment project

The project "PIA TANDEM" piloted by the CEA in partnership with the BRGM, Ecole des Ponts, EDF, Ifremer, IRSN and Principia was selected among 22 other projects further to the call for projects "Research in nuclear security and radioprotection", supported by the ministries of health and social affairs, ecology and sustainable development, further education and research,  and the general commission for investment. TANDEM (Tsunamis in the Atlantic and "MaNche" / Definition of the Effects by Modelisation). This 4-year project will be dedicated to the estimation of the consequences of tsunamis of seismic and gravitary origin, on French coasts, with particular interest for the Atlantic and Channel fronts where civil nuclear stations have been installed over the last 30 years.

IGUANES cruise: geophysical and biogeochemical caracterization of sedimentary instability and associated fluids

The objectives of the IGUANES cruise on-board the R/V L'Atalante were to study the links between the deep structure of the Guyana-Surinam  transform margin, sedimentary instabilities and cold-fluid seeps detected during an Extraplac cruise and also to understand the dynamics of fluid seeps and the specificities in a transform margin zone. Complementary to the high-resolution cartography of the zone and the installation of a current meter, 20 cores over pockmark zones were made to identify and caracterize possible fluid seeps.

Researchers and technicians from the different laboratories of Marine Geosciences and Deep Environments of Ifremer, took part in the cruise on-board the R/V L'ATALANTE from 29 April to 24 May 2013 under the responsibility of the University of Perpignan.

PRISME2 cruise: Risk processes and factors of sediment instability

The aim of the PRISME2 cruise (on-board R/V L'ATALANTE 14 July-4 August 2013), was to study in detail the great gravity events of 3 sectors of the western Mediterranean through high resolution (multi beam echo sounders, HR and very HR surface seisometer and very high resolution near-bottom towed seisometer). The aim is to obtain a better understanding of their age and the risk factors resulting in instability: possible liquefying of sediment generated by an earthquake (Ligurian Margin), instability linked to the presence of tectonic structures and sea-bottom fluid seeps (Pianosa ridge), accumulation of sedimentary debris of unknown age on the eastern slope of the deep fan of the Rhône. The scientific team coordinated by the Sedimentary Environment laboratory was made up of researchers from Ifremer (Marine Geosciences) and the IUEM.


A prototype version of a bathymetric model of France's coastline, homogeneous and continuous to the scale of 1/100 000, until now, unavailable to scientists and the public, except for the SHOM, was constituted. It's resolution will satisfy a great number of societal, research and modelling needs, excluding maritime navigation. The multi-layer conception of the SHOM-IFREMER model provides complementary information on the relation of source data and apprehends the quality of interpolation via a strong confidence index.

The model is divided into six sub-zones (Eastern Channel, North Brittany, South Brittany, Aquitaine, Gulf of Lions, Ligurian sea - Corsica) constituting a reference experimental product in the field of average resolution. Its diffusion is under discussion.

MIDAS project

The probability of exploiting unconventional deep-sea mineral and energy resources is becoming tangible. The geological and biological risks related to their exploitation have however only been superficially evaluated. A France-Europe Innovation PCRD tender called "Sustainable management of Europe's deep-sea and sub-sea floor resources' has been launched. This will indeed be a great support to scientific research and technological developments aiming to evaluated environmental risks and to define the strategies of evaluation of the impact of gas and mineral resource extraction activities in deep environments. The laboratories and research units of the department of Physical Resources and Deep-Sea Ecosystems including Marine Geoscience (assisted by the department of Marine and digital Infrastructures/Underwater systems are involved in preparing a reply to this tender in order to partake in:

- the evaluation of the geological risks related to the exploitation of gas hydrates by assuring the coordination of the transverse "gas hydrates" theme ;

- the evaluation of biological risks related to the exploitation of nodules and polymetallic sulphides and in particular on the functioning, connectivity and capacity of restoration of ecosystems ;

- discussions on the strategies and standards of the evaluation of environmental impact.