Local students support deep-ocean research

by Mark O'Brien
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West Dublin secondary schools are supporting one of the boldest deep-ocean research projects ever to be undertaken in Europe.

The SEA-SEIS project, led by Dr Sergei Lebedev from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) was launched last week from Cobh, County Cork.

The project team will explore the farthest depths of the Atlantic Ocean, using 18 state-of-the-art ocean bottom seismometers to measure movement at the ocean floor, hundreds of kilometres off the coast of Ireland.

In the leadup to the launch, secondary schools from across the country were invited to put forward names for each of the seismometers.

The winning entries hailing from West Dublin included; ‘Sebastian’, after the character in ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Maude’, after Maude Delap (1866 – 1953), the Irish marine biologist, both proposed by St Joseph’s College, Lucan.

Other winning entries included ‘Quakey’ as proposed by Pobalscoil Iosolde, Palmerstown and ‘Wilson’, after Tuzo Wilson, a geophysicist who made important contributions to the theory of plate tectonic and the ball from ‘Castaway’, as proposed by Kingswood Community College, Dublin 24.

Through ongoing social media output and ship-to-classroom video links, schools will be able to follow the progress of the RV Celtic Explorer and the deployment of the seismometers, over the next three weeks.

Speaking at this week’s launch, professor Chris Bean, senior professor of Geophysics and director of the DIAS School of Cosmic Physics, thanked the students for their contributions.

He said: “As originally discovered by DIAS and collaborators in the late 1980s, and subsequently confirmed by the Marine Institute/Geological Survey Ireland, Ireland has an ocean territory 10 times larger than its terrestrial landmass.

“There are geological, oceanographic, and biological processes that interact on a daily basis in this vast territory but, until now, have been poorly understood due to a lack of observational equipment.

“For the first time, through the SEA-SEIS project we will be able to make long-term direct observations of the interactions between our oceans and solid Earth in this region.

“‘Sebastian’, ‘Maude’, ‘Quakey’ and ‘Wilson’ will record the tiny vibrations of the Earth caused by seismic waves, generated by earthquakes and by the ocean waves.

As the waves propagate through the Earth’s interior on their way to the seismic stations, they accumulate information on the structure of the Earth that they encounter.

The equipment is being deployed on a mission on the RV Celtic Explorer over the next three weeks, with the ship returning to dock in Galway on October 7.

Further information about SEA-SEIS is available at https://sea-seis.ie

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