10 August 2020. On the 14th of August 2020 the SMART team will go on a cruise called OMAX (Offshore Malta Aquifer Exploration) in the Mediterranean Sea. OMAX will be carried out on the R/V SONNE. R/V SONNE's worldwide operation is coordinated by the German Research Vessel Coordination Centre at the University of Hamburg. The R/V SONNE will sail from the Port of Emden and come back on the 3rd of October 2020 to the same port.
During the cruise the scientists will conduct marine geophysics (active source seismology, controlled-source electromagnetics (CSEM)) and marine geochemistry (porewater, sediment, water column) experiments. The purpose of these experiments is to determine the location, geometry and dynamics of offshore groundwater aquifers along the Maltese coast. In addition, the team will also publish the activities and updates from the cruise on OMAX blog.
OMAX is the first detailed study of an offshore carbonate aquifer and will lead to a step change in the methodology used to characterize OAs and how they can be used sustainably. OMAX will entail a unique integration of innovative concepts and techniques from terrestrial and marine geology, geochemistry, geophysics, and hydrogeology to reach the SMART project objectives. The data to be acquired within this cruise will serve to address two of the overarching goals of the SMART project, which are: a) To develop a best practice guide on how to combine geophysical measurements with geochemical characterisation to detect, characterise and monitor OAs, and b) To quantify the hydrologic budget of OAs.
As an arid area, groundwater is the only source of freshwater in Malta and the periods of highest demand (e.g., agricultural and tourist seasons) coincide with the periods of lowest recharge from precipitation. Malta is representative for a large part of the Mediterranean coast line, and is also one of the ten poorest countries globally in terms of water resources per inhabitant. OMAX will support the principal aim of the SMART project to enable the Maltese Islands (and other Mediterranean countries) to sustainably use offshore groundwater as an alternative source of freshwater.
13 March 2020. The results of the discovery of freshwater body off the New Zealand Canterbury coast from MARCAN project have been published in the international journal Nature Communications. MARCAN is a research project that investigates the role of offshore groundwater in the geomorphic evolution of continental margins. Some of the SMART project team also contribute to this project which started in January 2017.
The article for this study can be accessed in the journal Nature Communications through https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-14770-7 and a press release is also available on GEOMAR website.
9 March 2020. Applications are now being accepted for the SMART Summer School 2020 “Understanding marine hydrogeology through the lens of geochemistry”. The second offering of the Summer Schools will be held at the University of Malta from 6 – 10 July 2020.
The focus of this year’s School is on biogeochemical exercises in characterizing freshened reservoir fluid origin, migration, and related element cycles. During the course students will learn about how to differentiate freshened subsea groundwater, identification of freshened water discharging at the seafloor using radio-tracing techniques, along with discussion about the biogeochemical cycles of nutrients and other tracers discharging in coastal waters. Modeling exercises, laboratory work and a field excursion to Malta and Gozo coastal outcrops will be part of the Summer School. The course will be taught by leading researchers in marine geochemistry and hydrogeology.
4 July 2019. During the SMART Summer School Marion Jegen and Bradley Weymer from GEOMAR had a meeting with Mr. Roderick Vassallo, Prof. Marie Therese Camilleri Podesta and some other colleagues from the University of Malta regarding gender equality and equal opportunity in Marine Science and Technology. Marion Jegen is part of the Baltic Gender project which started on the 1st of September 2016. Baltic Gender project aims to reduce gender inequalities in Marine Science and Technology which is traditionally dominated by male and lack of women in leadership positions. The detail of Baltic Gender project can be seen on https://www.baltic-gender.eu/. The meeting was not only focused on transfer of knowledge, but also capacity building between GEOMAR and the University of Malta.
1-5 July 2019. The SMART Summer School was held at the University of Malta Msida Campus. The Summer School aims to provide junior scientists with a comprehensive view on coastal groundwater research. This year, the focus is on using geophysics as a tool to map the location and quantify the geometry and volume of onshore/offshore aquifers as a potential resource to relieve water stress in coastal communities.
The lectures were given by seven professors and researchers from GEOMAR, the University of MALTA, and Texas A&M University. Nine graduate students at either the Master’s or PhD level from different countries and various academic backgrounds participated in this event. Besides classroom lectures, the participants also had a chance to conduct an onshore geophysical survey using an electromagnetic instrument. The field excursion took place in Pembroke, Malta which was chosen to discover how the fault in the site interacted with the groundwater system.
18 June 2019. A workshop discussing new approaches to explore submarine groundwater reservoirs was held at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. More than 20 scientists from all over Germany participated in the workshop to discuss the research needed for the exploration of submarine groundwater resources.
7 March 2019. Applications are now being accepted for the SMART Summer School “Understanding marine hydrogeology through the lens of geophysics: Bridging the gap across the coastal zone” to be held at the University of Malta from 30 June – 5 July 2019.
The SMART Summer School will provide in-depth lectures combined with training in the form of hands-on labs and a field survey. The focus of this year’s School is using both onshore and offshore geophysical methods to understand offshore groundwater aquifers and their possible connection to terrestrial aquifers. Offshore groundwater research is gaining increased attention especially regarding whether these resources may be used sustainably to reduce water stress for many coastal communities including Malta. We aim to provide students with a broad overview of this exciting and new frontier in marine science. During the course, students will learn about electromagnetic (EM) and seismic methods and learn how to process and interpret these data. The course will be taught by leading researchers in marine geophysics, marine geology, coastal geology, and near-surface applied geophysics.
28 November 2018. The SMART kick-off meeting was held at GEOMAR - Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Reseach Kiel, Germany. Team members and colleagues from eight institues attended the meeting including; GEOMAR, University of Malta, Univeristy of Kiel, Texas A&M University, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), and Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ. Nearly thirty participants attended the meeting from four countries (Germany, Malta, New Zealand, and the United States).
Picture: Marion Jegen/GEOMAR
Picture: GEOMAR Website
Photos: Aaron Micallef/University of Malta
Photos: Bradley Weymer/GEOMAR
Photo: Jan Steffen/GEOMAR
Photos: Tamara Worzewski