Scientific diving school Panarea

19-27 SEPTEMBER, 2019
Published time: 01 March, 2019 12:00

The school

The International Scientific Diving Summer School, hosted at the ECCSEL NatLab Italy at Panarea (Eolian Islands, Italy), offers scientific training for researchers, professionals and volunteers willing to enhance their knowledge on the submarine environment, particularly on subjects related to the effects of climate changes, ocean acidification and CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage).

Participants, supported by research institute, University experts and professional divers, will have the unique possibility to explore and investigate the chemical, biological and geological characteristics of a natural acidified laboratory, combining a strong scientific preparation with extensive practical experience of gathering underwater samples and data. 


Panarea Island is located in the Aeolian Archipelago, in Southern Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the smallest of the Aeolian Islands and, together with the surrounding islets, represents the emerged portions of a larger submarine quiescent stratovolcano characterized by the presence of active extensional faults.

Around the island various submerged vents fields occur, where hydrothermal CO2 leaks at substantial rates from the seafloor. This natural CO2-release field has been active for centuries, but at the end of 2002 a violent gas outburst occurred, responsible of the formation of a wide crater and the emission of huge quantities of CO2and H2S in the surrounding waters, that killed most of the benthic and nektonic fauna.

The geographical position of Panarea (isolated from the mainland), the presence of natural emissions of CO2and other gases also in shallow water depths (from 5 to 30 m), and the still active volcanism, make this island a unique natural laboratory for scientific diving investigations.

These have included studies of the geochemical composition of the hydrothermal fluids, research to understand the impact of COon the marine environment and on benthic and pelagic organisms, and for testing of various monitoring devices and procedures in the framework of CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage).

For these unique characteristics the island was chosen to host the Panarea ECCSEL NatLab Italy, managed by OGS with the support of La Sapienza University of Rome, which is dedicated to study CCS, ocean acidification and climate change effects on marine ecosystems.


After two national editions, the first international edition took place in 2018, with teachers from La Sapienza University of Rome (Earth Sciences Department), INGV (National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, section of Palermo), OGS (National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics) and the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn (Naples).

The school manages both teaching and research activities, involving students in the observation, measurement and interpretation of data collected during the scientific scuba dives. Teaching and learning are organized in theoretic lessons, practical activities, and laboratory analyses followed by elaboration and interpretation of the obtained field data. Theoretical lessons cover topics such as oceanography, geology, geochemistry, volcanology and biology, focusing on marine geology and volcanology, hydrothermalism, climate change and ocean acidification, experimental design and sampling. Particularly, the lessons aim to explain the fundamentals of the adopted methodologies, the procedures for collecting data and samples and the approaches to elaborate and interpret them.

Underwater activities will include mapping and measuring (e.g. measuring and labelling distances, deploy a transect, measuring patterns, measuring fractures in substratum, prospecting, installing a grid); sampling of fluids (sea water, hydrothermal water and gas); sampling of sediments; sampling of rocks; use of multiparametric probes, sampling of benthic organisms with semi-quantitative and quantitative methods, visual census. 

During the practical underwater activities, students will learn the use of specific tools for research and measurements, provided by the involving Institutions. This will include the Niskin bottle, the benthic chamber, the ”air-lift” for benthos sampling, the deployment and recovery of a multiparametric probe, or other instruments specifically set up for CO2monitoring by participating institutions, such as the GasPro probes and a monitoring dive to the seafloor observatory of the INGV (an infrastructure equipped with probes and hydrophones which allows the continuous monitoring of several parameters). 

After the dive, all measurements taken underwater by the participants will be transferred into the NatLab facility and the obtained data will be elaborate organizing them in tables, classifying biological samples and analyzing gas and water samples, under the supervision of teachers. The meaning and the interpretation of the results, also compared with the datasets collected in the previous editions of the school, are discussed during these activities and shared with all the students.

School diploma

The diploma of the Summer School of Panarea will certified the number of hours of underwater working and the hours of lessons. This will be useful for the acquirement of the European Scientific Diver (ESD and AESD) license by the European Scientific Diving Panel, represented in Italy by the AIOSS, that already endorsed the past two national editions of the School. 


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Flyer of the edition 2019 of the school

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