GEOLOGY

Discover Europe’s seabed geology

EMODnet Geology

Seabed Substrate map 1:250k

The EMODnet Geology Portal aims at providing harmonised information on marine geology in Europe.

It is one of several EMODnet portals with the purpose to strengthen blue growth in Europe.

News

2021.09.24 Updated geological events layers from EMODnet Geology

EMODnet Geology has released new datasets on earthquakes, submarine landslides, volcanoes, tsunamis, fluid emissions and Quaternary tectonics in seas surrounding European countries. EMODnet Geology partners have provided data regarding marine areas surrounding their countries, extending from Iceland to Turkey and including the Caspian Sea.

The EMODnet Geology team responsible for the work on Geological events and probabilities, led by Geological Survey of Italy – ISPRA, has released new datasets on earthquakes, submarine landslides, volcanoes, tsunamis, fluid emissions and Quaternary tectonics in seas surrounding European countries. Event data are subdivided into layers according to type of event, geometry (polygons, points and lines) and scale (1:250k and 1:100k or more detailed). Each occurrence is complemented by additional information (where available), which is displayed when clicking on it.

Layers provide information on which type of events occurred where and when, indicating areas more subject to their occurrences. Fluid emissions of volcanic and non-volcanic origin are now displayed together in the same layers. Deliveries of different phases concerning tsunamis have been grouped in single layers. The earthquakes layer has been implemented, particularly with data from the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Such information is relevant for land management and coastal protection, increasing awareness on the hazards which might affect coastal areas. Even though EMODnet Geology “Events and probabilities” layers do not provide direct information on geohazard assessment, the huge amount of data available provides a solid baseline for further studies addressed at this relevant issue.

EMODnet Geology Partners have provided data regarding marine areas surrounding their countries, extending from Iceland to Turkey and including the Caspian Sea. Data had been either directly acquired by partners’ surveys, obtained by cooperation with third parties or retrieved in the literature. Data have been elaborated according to the guidelines, following discussion with partners and based on their feedback. EMODnet Geology has collated all deliveries, checked their guidelines compliance, harmonized complementary details and elaborated symbols to display occurrences. Datasets will continue to be updated with additional information retrieved.

A submarine landslide susceptibility map

The most challenging part of the work has been to identify a way to express probabilities concerning geological events. Due to the large areas involved and to the lesser information available for submarine events, as opposed to those on land, it might be possible to only elaborate susceptibility models. However, no well-known models exist to assess the susceptibility of all marine geological events. Nevertheless, starting from the points, lines and polygons of the landslide datasets together with the bathymetry and slope derived from the EMODnet Bathymetry portal, a submarine landslide susceptibility map was elaborated by applying the maximum entropy model (MaxEnt). The model and the method used to generate the submarine landslide susceptibility map are described in a paper published in the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and HydrogeologySpecial Issue on EMODnet Geology (Innocenti et al., 2020, doi: dx.doi.org/10.1144/qjegh2020-027).

2021.09.21 New update for download: Sea-bed substrate – the data now extends to the Caspian Sea

A new update of the seabed substrates has been released by EMODnet Geology. The coverage of the data products has expanded to new sea areas and the broad scale data product (1: 1 000 000/5 000 000) now includes the Caspian Sea. In addition, the update adds new scales into the multiscale data product with the current data including scales from as detailed as 1:1500.

EMODnet Seabed substrate data products comprise of multiple datasets at different scales, compiled in subsequent EMODnet Geology projects running since 2009. In the projects, diverse, national datasets are harmonised into a shared schema which includes not only information on seabed substrate, but also background and confidence level of the data. The maps illustrate seabed properties at different scales covering all European maritime areas.

Seabed substrate data products are:
  • Multiscale (1:1500 – 1:70 000)
  • 1:100 000
  • 1:250 000
  • 1:1 000 000
  • Sediment accumulation rates


The broad scale data (250 k and 1 M) describes the seabed substrate at a general level, suitable for the decision-making, research, and large-scale spatial planning. More detailed scale data are needed, for instance, for habitat mapping purposes and planning local constructions like wind farms. Download links and information about the individual data products can be found on this portal.

2021.09.15 New update for download: Sea-floor Geology

Within EMODnet Geology, the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) is leading the workpackage “Seafloor Geology” to compile and harmonize the European marine geology map data as detailed as possible for the themes pre-Quaternary geology, Quaternary geology, and geomorphology.

These three data themes show Europe’s geology under the seas from Earths ancient past (more than 2500 Million years ago) to the young, Quaternary deposits and the features that form the seafloor, the geomorphological features. From these data we can read the story about Earths Evolution in the European, marine part of our planet Earth, i.e. from the oldest rocks and how they form, to the youngest rocks and geomorphological features representing the most recent geological and environmental changes. A synthesis of geomorphologic structures of the European Seas did not exist before.

Users can find information on scientifically valuable geological and geomorphological structures, on geological material (lithology), its age (stratigraphy) and its forms (geomorphology) on the seafloor in Europe. They can find information on seafloor seafloor important for geoscience research and investigations of future exploration of mineral and energy resources, but also for habitat mapping. The data presented here are also a source of knowledge about the features of the seafloor surface, the geomorphology, valuable for habitats of numerous species (Fishery, tourism). In addition, the layers provides information on the sea floor conditions to plan building infrastructures (such as windparks, or a pipeline) or a protection area for endangered species).

New data are added to the Quaternary and geomorphology map products and an additional new layer of general physiographic features was compiled and published on the EMODnet Geology Portal. This new layer shows at an overview scale the continental shelf and slope, the continental rise, ridges and abyssal plains and complements the geomorphology map layer which is in parts very detailed:


For example, in this map section west and east of Gibraltar you can cleary see e.g. the broad marine canyons and channels west and southwest of Portugal, pockmark fields west and east of Gibraltar along the coastal areas and a large slide areas in the Strait of Gibraltar.

In addition, and to help to increase the performance and offer a better useability of data to the user, the Quaternary geology layer was subdivided according to its resolution into four new layers in four different scales: > 100k (large scale), 100 – 300 k (medium scale), 300 – 1500 k (small scale), and 1500 – 3000 k (very small scale).

The large and medium scale data present the data in a detail level for e.g. as information for local off-shore construction purpose, the smaller scale data may help regional planners for cross-regional planning and decision making.

2021.09.14 New update for download: Marine Minerals

The EMODnet Geology team responsible for the work package on Minerals, led by Geological Survey Ireland, has released new datasets of recorded marine minerals known to accumulate in seas surrounding European waters. The different types of marine mineral mapped by EMODnet Geology vary widely in genesis, i.e. how they form. Included in these twelve types of minerals are: aggregates; hydrocarbons; gas hydrates; marine placers; phosphorites; evaporates; polymetallic sulphides; polymetallic nodules; cobalt rich ferromanganese crust; metal rich sediments; rock, pegmatite and vein hosted mineralisation; sapropel.


Ferro Manganese cobalt-rich crust from the Canary Islands (Spain). Photo: Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (IGME-CSIC). 2011.

Information on the types of minerals has relevance to engineering and planning for those who draw policies on the designation of areas for protection as well as licencing for mineral extraction. Environmental and climate scientists who may be interested in the sea level rise and chemical interactions within our ocean can glean useful information from some of the mineral types listed. The importance of marine Critical Raw Materials (CRM) are not only essential for the production of a broad range of goods and services used in everyday life, but also for the development of emerging innovations linked to eco-efficient technologies.

In 2020 the EU Blue Economy Report prepared by the European Commission featured EMODnet Geology Marine Aggregates mapping highlighting the established sector of Marine non-living resources in relation to “other minerals”, a sub-sector which is expected to be on the rise. This rise is associated with the demand for resources such as sand and gravel, used for construction purposes and for producing concrete. Increasing demands for drinking and, in general, fresh water means that desalination is also expected to grow. Likewise, as coastal communities attempt to adapt to new pressures posed by climate change, dredging, beach nourishment and sand reclamation may intensify.

The data collation for EMODnet Geology IV saw marine mineral data submitted by 24 partners and published in pre-defined data schemas that report important information for each of the twelve mineral types. It is envisaged that under the next Phase of EMODnet Geology these datasets will continue to be updated as well as focus on the development of innovative product layers to include mineral resource potential and mineral sub-classification.

2021.06.24 New update for download: Submerged Landscapes

EMODnet Geology have updated the “Submerged Landscapes” data product. This fully attributed GIS layer now comprises of more than 16,000 features representing 27 classes of submerged landscape and palaeoenvironmental indicators including mapped and modelled palaeocoastlines, evidence for submerged forests and peats, and submerged freshwater springs across all European seas. “This update has almost doubled the features and information compiled previously”, says Heather Stewart, coordinator of the EMODnet Geology team responsible for the work on submerged landscapes.

With this ambitious and growing product, EMODnet Geology hopes to serve new groups, projects and initiatives. These harmonised products will underpin regional palaeogeographic reconstructions at 20000, 9000, and 6000 years BP during the next development phase.

Sea level is known to have fluctuated by more than 100m over repeated glacial cycles, resulting in recurring exposure, inundation and migration of coastlines not only across Europe but worldwide. Landscape response to these changes in sea level, and the preservation of these features on continental shelves around Europe, are an invaluable resource for improving our understanding of human history and environmental change over geological time, while also providing data for potential use in examining future sea-level rise scenarios.

“With preservation of these now submerged features under threat from commercial activities and natural erosion, bringing together existing knowledge through delivery of this work package is timely”, added Ms Stewart.

2021.05.27 New EMODnet Geology map on coastal type

Europe’s coast is as diverse as its people. It reflects a history of rock formation and disintegration that is many millions of years long. One of its main characteristics, coastal type, shows the combined effect of geology and human influence. Together, these have a direct influence on vulnerability and resilience to climate change. Hard rocky cliffs, soft sandy beaches, pristine estuaries and man-made harbours are all intertwined with our economies in their own particular way. They affect our short- and long-term safety, and are a big part of our well-being. Being able to visualise coastal type from Iceland’s western fjords to Ukraine’s eastern sand spits sets the stage for sustainable long-term coastal policy.

The new EMODnet Geology map on coastal type builds on the EUROSION map of coastal type released almost twenty years ago. It fills gaps and gives a first-order indication of vulnerability and resilience for policy makers, identifying areas of potentially irreversible future change.

Pan-European overview map of coastal type
red = rocky
yellow/orange = gravelly or sandy
blue = muddy
grey = artificial

This important data product allows users to visualise pan-European coastal type at different spatial scales. A built-in search and zoom functionality enables online users to distinguish areas marked by rocky coasts, (pocket) beaches of sand and gravel, muddy tidal basins and estuaries, and man-made coastlines such as harbours and dams.

2021.04.27 New update of data product “Sedimentation rates” available

EMODnet Geology updated their sedimentation rates data product. The data is compiled from all available information on the rate of sedimentation in European maritime areas, provided by EMODnet project partners from their national waters (incl. EEZ). The information on sedimentation rates for recent sediments is presented as point-source information. The focus is on the present-day sedimentation rates. That means sediment accumulations to the seabed over the past decades, since AD 1900 or so. Estimations of modern sedimentation rates (centimeters/year) can be based, for example, on established historical records of anthropogenic radionuclides (e.g. 137Cs and 241Am), lead (Pb) and stable lead isotope (206/207Pb ratios) as well as on data based on annually laminated sediments. Sedimentation rates data consists of more than 1500 data points at this moment. Knowledge on sediment accumulation rates in a specific area provides a better understanding of geochemical processes and benthic organisms functioning. It is important, also, for the maintenance of shipping lanes and the stability of offshore constructions like wind farms or oil platforms. The data of the sedimentation rates are freely available for visualisation and download on the EMODnet Geology portal.

2021.03.18 New data product “Coastal Migration from field data” available

The new EMODnet Geology shoreline-migration map, released today and freely accessible from the EMODnet portal, allows policy makers, together with national and regional coastal managers, to determine large-scale coastal behaviour and identify areas of rapid change. It is based on field measurements and aerial photography, and covers time periods up to decades. The map is particularly valuable for cliffs, which are prevalent along European coastlines, particularly since state-of-the-art satellite-monitoring methods aren’t yet suitable for imaging erosion of non-sandy types of coastline.

2021.01.13 New update of harmonised seabed substrate data available

EMODnet Geology has updated seabed substrate data products i.e. maps. Within the project diverse national seabed substrate data classifications are brought together, harmonised and collated using the Folk classification system of 5, 7 and 16 classes. The maps illustrate seabed properties at different scales covering all European sea areas. A layer at a scale of 1:25 000 has been added to the multiscale data product and the seabed substrate layers at a scale of 1:50 000 and 1: 100 000 have also been updated. The data products include also seabed substrate data at the scale of 1:250 000 and 1: 1 000 000 published in previous phases of the project. The harmonised maps of the seabed substrate are freely available for visualisation and download on the EMODnet Geology portal.

2019.04.29. New data products for Sea-floor Geology

Within EMODnet Geology, the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) (work package leader) compiles and harmonises the European marine geology map data with regard to geomorphology, pre-Quaternary and Quaternary geology. The three data layers released today on seafloor geology show the underlying geology from the Ancient Past (more than 2500 Million years ago) to modern Quaternary deposits and geomorphological features. From it we can read the story about Earths Evolution in the European, marine part of our planet Earth, i.e. from the oldest rocks and how they form, to the youngest rocks and geomorphological features representing the most recent geological and environmental changes.

A variety of target users include scientists and researchers, governments, employees from fisheries and industry, environmental agencies and tourism. In particular, the layers provide information about structures on the seafloor important for geoscience research, and investigations of future exploration of mineral and energy resources but also of biological resources. They are also a source of knowledge to show features of the seafloor geomorphology valuable for habitats of numerous species (fisheries, tourism). In addition, the layers provide information on the seafloor conditions to plan building infrastructures (such as wind parks, or a pipeline or a protection area for endangered species).

“Geology does not know political boundaries, neither at sea nor on land”, says Kristine Asch, work package leader. ”EMODnet geology will help users from science, governments, industry, fisheries and tourism to find and apply overview and detail geology data of any part of the European Seas”.

2019.04.26. Updated map for Events & Probabilities

New datasets about “Geological Events and Probabilities” are now available on the EMODnet Geology Portal. The EMODnet Geology team responsible for the work package “Geological Events and Probabilities”, led by Geological Survey of Italy – ISPRA, has realised broad ranging systematic mapping of Geological events and deposits they originated, detected in sea areas surrounding Europe. Data have been either directly acquired by Partners’ surveys or obtained by cooperation with third parties or retrieved in the literature. Each EMODnet Geology Partner has validated final data regarding marine areas surrounding his country. Read more…

2019.04.23. Harmonised multiscale maps of the seabed substrate

The harmonised and multiscale maps of the seabed substrate have been released today by EMODnet Geology. Diverse national seabed substrate data classifications are brought together, harmonised and collated using the Folk classification system of 5, 7 and 16 classes. The maps illustrate seabed properties at different scales – 1:50 000, 1:100 000, 1:250 000 (250 k) and 1:1 000 000 (1 M) – covering all European maritime areas in one product. The broad scale data (250 k and 1 M) describes the seabed substrate at a general level, suitable for the decision-making, research and large-scale spatial planning. More detailed scale data are needed, for instance, for habitat mapping purposes and planning local constructions like wind farms. The maps of the seabed substrate are now available on the EMODnet Geology portal.

2019.04.19. New data product available for download: Submerged landscapes

Sea level is known to have fluctuated by more than 100 metres over repeated glacial cycles resulting in recurring exposure, inundation and migration of coastlines not only across Europe, but worldwide. Landscape response to these changes in sea level, and the preservation of these features on continental shelves around Europe, are an invaluable resource for improving our understanding of human history and environmental change over geological time.

The EMODnet Geology Team responsible for the work package on Submerged Landscapes, led by the British Geological Survey with project partners from Russia to Iceland, Turkey to Portugal and all European maritime countries, has delivered a compilation of submerged landscape features and palaeoenvironmental indicators, including estimated age where known. The fully attributed Geographic Information System (GIS) layer will be used to underpin palaeogeographic reconstructions across various time-frames. Read more…

2019.04.16. New data product available for download: Marine minerals on behalf of participating European partners

EMODnet Geology’s marine minerals layers include all types of naturally occurring geological raw materials, metals and hydrocarbons known to accumulate in European sea regions. The 12 different types of marine minerals mapped for EMODnet Geology vary widely in types. Differing geological environments are reflected in the varied types of mineral accumulates found in the European marine environment.

Mapping the spatial extent of marine mineral occurrences within European waters allows us to communicate their extent visually, using one common data standard and at one common scale. It is hoped that these seabed mineral deposit maps will be useful to policy makers, planners, industry and society. Read more…

2019.04.08. New data product available for download: Pan-European coastline-migration map based on satellite data 2007-2016

Traditionally, coastline-migration maps, showing erosion and accretion at the fringes of marine and lacustrine water bodies, have been made using field-monitoring data, supplemented locally by analyses of aerial photography. The EMODnet-Geology coastline-migration map is a good example. It provides an overview of our current knowledge and is useful in transnational coastal-zone management. At the same time, it is far from perfect. Read more…

2018.11.09. Why may a mapped coastline differ from the ‘official’ coastline?

Some users of the EMODnet-Geology coastline-migration maps have noted that the coastline as shown in green (accretion), yellow (stable) or red (erosion) does not always match with the ‘official’ present-day coastline. Understandably, they wonder if a mistake has been made. The answer is no. Read more…

2018.09.26. EMODnet Geology on your tv

Full project meeting taking place in Shëngjin, Albania. The meeting was covered by national media: