Centre for Deep Sea Research


The Center for Deep Sea Research is involved in a broad range of projects.

A black smoker at the Fåvne vent field along the Arctic Mid Ocean Ridge.
Center for Deep Sea Research, University of Bergen

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COBRA is an international, virtual research coordination network that brings together diverse stakeholders from academia, government, resource management, industry, and policy-making to identify priority issues and coordinate efforts to address them while training future generations in inclusive ocean exploration, policy, research, and making data more accessible. Funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Contact: Steffen Jørgensen Eoghan Reeves

Wepbage: COBRA


DeepSeaQuence aims at revealing the genetic and functional diversity of the vast unknown microbial diversity in deep-sea hydrothermal vents by studying vent fields along the Arctic Mid-Ocean ridge. DeepSeaQuence thus focuses on one of the least explored marine realms. DeepSeaQuence aims to provide important base-line ecosystem knowledge of a habitat that is an important Norwegian reservoir of mineral resources and a site where bioprospecting activities may lead to the discovery of new biomolecules of immense economical value. DeepSeaQuence will go beyond the exploratory and seek out added values and possibilities to address central global challenges within focus on natural resources and the marine environment. DeepSeaQuence is interdisciplinary, spanning microbial ecology, geochemistry, microbial interactions, bioinformatics, supported by advanced Norwegian marine technology. Altogether, the knowledgebase provided by DeepSeaQuence will impact our understanding of the distribution, diversity, metabolic repertoire, and interactions of the vastly uncultivated, and thus far largely unknown, microbial biosphere in deep-sea hydrothermal systems.

The project is divided into four Work Packages, with UiB – University of Bergen; CeBiTec – University of Bielefeld, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway and JYU – University of Jyväskylä as Partners.

Contact: Runar Stokke

Webpage: DeepSeaQuence

dfg project k. sass

Contact: Runar Stokke

Eco-Safe Ridge Mining

A competence building project coordinated by the University of Bergen that investigates if deep-sea mining on the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge can take place sustainably, avoiding serious harm to the environment.

Contact: Pedro Ribeiro

Webpage: Eco-Safe


Financed by the FRINATEK program, the EnterDeep project aims to provide a unique view into the deep biosphere by investigating how microbial activity affects oceanic basalt newly formed in an oceanic volcano. 

The primary objective of EnterDeep is to quantify the environmental impact of microbial activity in newly formed oceanic basalt. To achieve this, we will use a novel approach to obtain sample material by drilling through a surface-exposed oceanic volcano, thereby circumventing previous obstacles and for the first time, retrieve newly formed subsurface basalt with the aim of investigating the deep biosphere. Further, we will advance the state of the art by deploying a truly interdisciplinary approach combining comprehensive genomics with atomic-scale mineral dissolution measurements, biogeochemical rate modeling, advanced identification of biomolecules and integrated geobiological data analysis, to quantitatively test long-standing hypotheses. This approach will allow EnterDeep to uncover an entirely unexplored province of the deep biosphere and help to answer a number of long-debated, first-order questions, including estimations of global impact of microbial activity, the fidelity of ancient biosignatures and the nature, origin and distribution of microbial colonization of the upper oceanic crust. 

Contact: Steffen Leth Jørgensen

Webpage: Prosjektbanken

Escanaba Trough

The USGS, in cooperation with BOEM, NOAA, and other institutions, including UiB, conducted a three-week research expedition in 2022 to Escanaba Trough off the coast of northern California. The multidisciplinary science team collected extensive geologic, geochemical, and biological samples with the remotely operated vehicle Jason, as well as test new seafloor mapping techniques using the autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry.  Funded by the U.S. Geological Survey/NOAA Ocean Exploration.

Contact: Eoghan Reeves

Webpage: Escanaba


Green Platform

Contact: Rolf Pedersen


Hydrothermal controls on volcanic explosivity at Santorini Volcano, Greece. Funded by U.K. NERC

Caldera volcanoes produce the largest explosive eruptions on the planet, yet the role fluids play in controlling eruption dynamics remains poorly understood and the mechanisms that control explosivity remain poorly constrained. Caldera eruptions can have global impacts, as shown by the unexpectedly violent 2022 Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai (HTHH) eruption that generated an atmospheric shockwave felt worldwide. Fundamental fluid interactions (hydrothermal/seawater/meteoric) with magma remain poorly understood, as any evidence is typically destroyed during the eruptive event, hence the lack of constraint on the impact of hydrothermal circulation is a major blind spot in our global understanding of volcanic behaviour and hazard forecasting. This project will characterise a case study marine caldera hydrothermal system and its connection to the underlying magma system in unprecedented detail, measure the effect of hydrothermal fluid flow on the physical properties of caldera rocks, quantify the importance of hydrothermal systems for magmatic outgassing, and parameterise models of the behaviour of hydrothermal systems during periods of volcanic unrest, providing an urgently needed step change in hazard forecasting by determining the controls on the role hydrothermal circulation plays in volcanic explosivity.

Contact: Eoghan Reeves


Funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the FRINATEK program (2019-2023)  

The HyPOD project aims to shed light on how organic molecules form in hydrothermal fluids emanating from hot springs on the seafloor.   

Seafloor hydrothermal systems hosts a variety of marine life. The cornerstone of marine life in these hostile systems spewing extremely hot, reducing fluids onto the seafloor are microorganisms, which comprise the base of the hydrothermal food chain. Microbes living around hot springs on the seafloor are hypothesized to have emerged as the first life on Earth, but how they could have developed in the first place is still poorly understood.  

Organic molecules, the building blocks of life, are present in hydrothermal fluids, but we are not entirely sure how they form. Various processes are viable candidates, such as abiotic synthesis (non-biological transformation of carbon dioxide), and thermal breakdown of pre-existing organic carbon such as microbial or dissolved organic matter. Both processes produce organic molecules, but they have not been studied in detail under conditions prevalent in hot springs on the seafloor.  

We aim to change that by conducting hydrothermal experiments to simulate these high temperature-pressure conditions and investigate the formation of organic molecules. Comparing the results of laboratory experiments to natural hydrothermal fluid samples from various hot spring systems will test how realistic the findings are. In doing so, we hope to much better understand the formation of organic molecules in hydrothermal fluids and thus carbon cycling in volcanic oceanic crust. Improving this understanding is necessary to define energy sources for microbes in hot springs; this is relevant for future biotech applications of microbial life. Conducting this much-needed research will also contribute to the origin of life debate, we will get a step closer to deciphering the potential of life to start in oceans on other celestial bodies in our solar system, such as Enceladus.     

Contact: Eoghan Reeves

Webpage: Prosjektbanken


Life at the limits: diversity, adaptation strategies and bioprospecting of microbes living in Arctic deep-sea habitats. 

Contact: Ida Steen

Webpage: INDEPTH


LoVeOcean is a national research infrastructure located outside Lofoten-Vesterålen, providing real-time physical, biological, and chemical observations from the ocean

Contact: Thibaut Barreyre

Webpage: Love

Milos Summer School

This is a field-based research course on hydrothermal systems and the potential impacts of mineral extraction. It is funded by Equinor and UiB under Akademiaavtalen, and will take place in October 2023.

Technologies linked to the transition to green energy require an ever-increasing amount of various elements such as copper, zinc, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth elements. In light of the current geopolitical situation and the uncertainties this provokes, some countries like Norway have initiated a process to assess the feasibility and consequences of deep sea mining, including in hydrothermal systems. Hence, access to knowledge on deep sea hydrothermal processes and ecosystems is going to be critical both for decision makers and for the emerging industry.

In this course, we want to provide students with direct research experience at the hydrothermal system of Milos (Greece). This hydrothermal system is a shallow analogue to deep sea vents, and an ideal place for students to be trained in systemic hydrothermal investigation. Students with background in marine geophysics, macrobiology, geomicrobiology and geochemistry will work together to achieve a global understanding of the system, allowing them to understand how minerals are formed and how to assess the potential ecological impact of exploiting these resources. They will be involved with actively contested questions, empirical observation, cutting-edge technologies, and the sense of excitement that comes from working to answer important questions. By the end of this course, students will have learned the process leading to thorough and rigorous scientific investigation, including result presentation and discussion. As such, this course will make students able to contribute to the ongoing energy transition and the demand for critical minerals by helping policy makers and industry leaders make more informed decisions.

Contact: Sven Le Moine Bauer



Funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the Infrastructure program (2020-2025). 

The NorEMSO project aims to monitor ocean circulation, water mass evolution and impacts of hydrothermal activity in the Nordic Seas.

NorEMSO is a large-scale ocean observation facility to be established in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea. The facility will be part of the Marine European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) and European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water-column Observatory (EMSO) network, which consists of ocean observatories at several locations in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans, as well as the Black Sea. NorEMSO will be the first facility in the Nordic Seas.   

The main objective of the NorEMSO project is to elucidate the drivers for water mass transformations, ocean circulation, acidification, metal transport and thermo-chemical exchanges at the seafloor in the Nordic Seas through collection of high quality, near real-time data that aid the improvement of models and forecasting. The observatory will consist of three complementary components: Ocean gliders will traverse the upper layers of the Norwegian-Greenland Sea at several latitudes and collect data on the composition and movement of water masses, moored observatories will allow reconstructions of the evolution of water masses with depth in the ocean, and a stationary seafloor observation platform will provide information about the temporal environmental variability of a hydrothermally active area. Staff at the K.G. Jebsen Centre is coordinating the establishment of the stationary platform at the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge. 

The EMSO-Mohn stationary observatory will be located in close proximity to the Fåvne hydrothermal vent field on the Mohn Ridge. Hydrothermal systems are major carriers of heat and trace metals from the Earth’s sub-surface to the ocean. To date, the transport rates of elements and compounds from the seabed through the water column are poorly constrained. The purpose of the EMSO-Mohn observatory is thus primarily to help quantifying the thermo-chemical output of the solid Earth to overlying ocean layers.  

The observatory will be wireless and is set to serve a multidisciplinary purpose, compiling data that provide information on geophysics and physical oceanography, as well as chemistry, ecology and microbiology. In order to be able to gather a wide spectrum of data, the platform will be equipped with several highly specialized sensors, including Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers, pressure gauges, temperature probes, conductivity sensors, turbidity meters, optodes, and a hydrophone. The observatory will furthermore hold a data processing unit for onsite data reduction.  

The NorEMSO project involves partners from the University of Bergen, the Institute for Marine Research, the Norwegian Research Centre, the University of Tromsø, the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. 

Contact: Thibaut Barreyre

Webpage: NorEMSO


Remote Intelligent Access to Labs in Higher Education (RIALHE) aims to improve the students’ understanding of scientific procedures starting from remote access to real lab experiments followed by collaborative activities using tech platforms.

Lab work is a key aspect of scientific education and students can seldom access public and private labs of excellence. While several Erasmus+ projects and national initiatives have focused on digital L&T, our project is innovative in addressing a pedagogical framework (RIALHE)for lab training as a particular field.

Despite providing scientific labs, many educational bodies lack the resources to meet the costs of reagents or maintenance. Digitising the hardware components of a Lab is complicated and costly. In the context of virtual labs, where the experiment is simulated, students face situations where aspects of the procedures remain hidden because simulations do not address contingencies or measurement errors. A lab operator needs to address such situations that are present in a real life experiment.

Acquiring this ability is an important part of the learning process that is lost in the over-idealized virtual world. An innovative methodology, shared at European level, implies the elaboration of basic competencies including gaining familiarity with cutting edge lab equipment not necessarily accessible to all academic institutions.

Contact: Runar Stokke

Webpage: RIALHE

Vent & Seep Fauna in Norwegian Waters