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posted 26 Jan 2013, 00:44 by Pere Ridao Rodríguez   [ updated 26 Jan 2013, 00:52 ]

GIRONA500 AUV explores an underwater vulcano in Santorini

The Caldera 2012 cruise took place between the 13 and the 23 of July within the caldera of Santorini (Greece) onboard R/V AEGAEO (HCMR, Greece). This project is funded through European Commission EUROFLEETS funding scheme (, grant n. 228344).

The main goals of the Caldera 2012 project are:
• The validation of the AUV “GIRONA500” for routine scientific operations. This AUV is equipped with a multibeam sonar system for high resolution acoustic seafloor mapping as well as with cameras for seafloor imaging. Application of opto/acoustic imaging techniques to build photomosaics, micro-bathymetries and 3D topography reconstruction.
• The characterization of hydrothermal activity within the caldera: optical maps of actively venting areas, water column in situ analyses with a marinized spectrometer, hydrothermal fluid sampling, and monitoring of temporal variations in hydrothermal activity.
The project consortium is formed by 4 institutions: l'Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (PGP), the Hellenic Center of Marine Research (HCMR), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of Girona (UdG).

AUV Missions.

During the cruise the GIRONA500 AUV targeted two sites of scientific interest: the northern basin hydrothermal vent site and the lava tongue descending from there up to the bottom of the caldera.
The undertaken missions included a multi-beam survey of the lava tongue, at 15 m. altitude, descending from 280 m. up to 350 m depth in the northern part of the crater. It also performed a joint multi-beam and monocular survey, at 4 m. altitude, while acquiring chemical data using the WHOI mass spectrometer.
The work took place on board the Greek AEGAEO oceanographic ship of the Hellenic Center of Marine Resarch which is also equipped with a ROV (MAXROVER) and a HOV (THETIS).

UdG Contribution

The UdG team contributed to the project providing the AUV, as well as high resolution optical and acoustic mapping capabilities. During the following weeks, the data gathered with the underwater robots will be used to set-up high acurate 2D photomosaics, 2.5D micro-bathymetries and 3D reconstructions of selected sites of geological interest, to assist the geological studies.

GIRONA500 becomes Operational 

One of the main goals of the UdG team consisted in testing and validating the recently developed AUV, as an operative vehicle for rutinary scientific operations. The cruise results confirm our robot as an operational AUV which has been able to repetitively dive bellow the 300 m. depth reaching the deepest area of the caldera at 380 m.