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This page was published on 25/01/2007
Published: 25/01/2007

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Published: 25 January 2007  
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Special Collections  |  Research policy  |  Environment


Underwater mud volcanoes

Mud volcanoes are cone-shaped formations of sediment, of variable size. They are composed of a mixture of fluids (generally water and gases) and mud (undercompacted clay), which flow from one or more vent holes in the middle of the crater. During an eruption, mud volcanoes emit large amounts of methane.

Video in QuickTime format:  de  en  es  fr  it  pt  ru  (30 MB)

Mud volcanoes are found on land and underwater. The latter are the subject of this new report for television stations. Indeed, researchers are studying the impact on climate change of the gases emitted by these volcanoes. They have discovered that the immediate surroundings of these volcanoes are constituted of micro-organisms, of which 99% are still unidentified today, and some of which feed on methane, hydrogen sulphide and other gases, preventing them from being released into the sea and consequently rising to the surface.

The Hermes Project

The oceans are home to 90% of life on earth, which is why it is essential to study their functions. That is precisely the aim of the HERMES project (Hotspot Ecosystem Research on the Margins of European Seas) initiated under the Sixth European Research Framework Programme.

HERMES is one of the biggest integrated research projects for the study of ecosystems in the depths of European waters. Launched in April 2005 as part of the 6th European Research Framework Programme, HERMES is run by a consortium made up of 45 European partners, divided into 11 distinct working groups.

This international and multidisciplinary project financed by the European Commission, gathers experts in biodiversity, geology, sedimentology, physical oceanography, microbiology, biogeochemistry and socioeconomics. It constitutes the first major attempt to achieve a global understanding of ecosystems in the depths of European waters and their environment.

The study sites are located in the Arctic, the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The main research sites are currently located in:

  • Nordic waters
  • the waters of Rockall (west of the United Kingdom)
  • the Portuguese Atlantic seaboard
  • the Gulf of Cadiz
  • the eastern Mediterranean
  • the Black Sea
  • the western Mediterranean

The approach is identical for each site:

  • Acquire a better understanding of the natural conductors which control ocean ecosystems
  • Acquire a better understanding of how biodiversity works and of critical ecosystems
  • Forecast changes which will affect the processes involved in biodiversity and ecosystem
  • Develop strategies for the sustainable use of marine resources


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Futuris, the European research programme - on Euronews. The video on this page was prepared in collaboration with Euronews for the Futuris programme.


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