History of the Mobile Marine Seismology (SMM) action

Seismological and environmental observation in the marine environment using acoustic and seismological sensors uses instruments on the seafloor, drifting or on moorings, deployed from oceanographic vessels or ships of opportunity. This instrumentation enables temporary observation of seismic and/or volcanic activity at the land/sea interface or in the open ocean. It enables the Earth to be imaged, seismological activity to be monitored, deformations to be tracked using geodesy methods, and environmental seismology programs to be carried out.

Until 2022, three independent fleets of Ocean Bottom Seismometers (OBS) existed in France: INSU/IPGP (CNRS/IPGP) – based in Paris, Géoazur (CNRS/IRD/OCA) – based in Nice, and IFREMER/Geo-Ocean (IFREMER/CNRS/UBO) – based in Brest. Due to the specific constraints of OBS recordings, very little data from these parks arrived at RESIF’s Seismological Data Center.

To optimize acquisition and maintenance costs, coordinate the implementation of equipment and ensure greater visibility of marine seismological actions, RESIF, the French Seismological and Geodetic Network (now named Epos-France), asked in 2017 for the OBS parks of INSU/IPGP and Géoazur to come together as a single national park. At the same time, a specific OBS data preparation/validation node A was created. Subsequently, the IFREMER/Geo-Ocean cluster wished to become involved in this grouping and add hydroacoustic monitoring using hydrophone networks. It was therefore decided to create a RESIF Special Action Mobile Marine Seismology (SMM), covering the instrument park and Node A.

The creation of an SMM Node A, within the Résif information system (IS), is a key point in optimizing the archival and distribution of SMM data to the scientific community.

Moreover, in February 2021, the Frence National Research Agency (PIA3-ESR-Equipex+) funded the Marmor project (Marine Advanced geophysical Research equipment and Mayotte multidisciplinary Observatory for research and Response), with the dual objectives of:

  • structuring the French scientific community, by providing the underwater seismic and geodesic equipment needed to conduct top-level research in the oceans ;
  • setting up a monitoring and research infrastructure for the seismo-volcanic crisis currently underway in Mayotte.

A budget of €15.4 million over 8 years is allocated to the project, including €5.5 million for the first objective 1, which includes the SMM instrumentation fleet.

* Vessels of opportunity: Ships not specifically designed/used for scientific research, but having the equipment and laboratory/accommodation space to meet campaign requirements.

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The Marmor project

The Mobile Marine Seismology specific action was created in the context of the ANR (PIA3-ESR-Equipex) Marmor project. The aim of this project is to structure the French scientific community, by providing the Epos-France research infrastructure with the equipment needed to conduct top-level research using the tools of underwater seismology and geodesy.

The project axes managed by the Epos-France research infrastructure are:

  • axis 1: underwater geodesy
  • axis 2: rapid response to seismic and/or volcanic crises
  • axis 3: renewal of marine mobile seismology fleets
  • axis 4: fiber optics research and development.

The SMM specific action concerns axes 2 and 3.

For further information on the project, visit the Marmor website: https://www.marmor-project.org/