In the last decade within several European and bi-national (German-Italian) projects a set of equipment and technology for benthic stations, and their deployment and recovery has been developed. Starting with a single prototype station which operated autonomously for several months in the Mediterranean Sea (GEOSTAR2 – Geophysical and Oceanographic Station for Abyssal Research – Deep Sea Mission, 1999–2001, /1/) with a near-real-time-communication-system including a acoustic link from station to buoy and a shore radio link. This concept has been extended to realize a sub-sea network of several benthic stations (ORION- Ocean Research by Integrated Observation Networks, 2002–2005, /1/). This includes an extended version of the GEOSTAR acoustic underwater communication system between the stations and the buoy unit for direct shore communication. For the deployment and recovery of these benthic stations the deep-sea shuttle MODUS (Mobile Docker for Underwater Sciences) has been developed and used (operation depth 4000 m). All operations up to now were successfully conducted. The ORION-network is under operation at a water depth of 3700 m North of Sicily/Italy since December 2003. In addition to this MODUS has been used to install the first long-term benthic station directly cable connected to shore. Thus, the first European long term benthic station has been established, with the aim to demonstrate a technology for the ongoing plans for a European deep-sea shore network (ESONET – European Seafloor Observatory Network, /1/). The deployment took place east of Sicily using MODUS and a ROV for the realization of the cable connection between the station and the cable termination in January 2005.

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