The Greek island of Milos in South Aegean Sea is known for the classical Venus de Milo statue (currently in display at the Louvre), but is also very famous for its volcanism and active hydrothermal processes taking place along its coastline. The SE shoreline at Paleochori Bay is where hydrothermal activity meets its peak at about 0–15 m water depth.
A full field mission has recently been organised and completed by the RAMONES Project partners to investigate the potential of the vent field as a potential test site for all the innovative aspects of technology, which is currently under preparation and validation. In addition to testing the prototype instrumentation to: a) assess the levels of natural radioactivity both associated with the hydrothermal outflow underwater and regular levels, and b) evaluate equipment as well as assess installation strategies adapted for environmental underwater monitoring, the studies of the distribution of hydrothermal outflow, seafloor temperatures, and associations with bacterial and other microbial communities were confronted, show that Milos is a multi-faceted, natural laboratory.
The RAMONES team (partners: NKUA, IST-ID, NTUA, PLOA, UCA) accompanied by researchers from U. Bordeaux and U. Lyon traveled to Milos from 24/03/2023 to 31/03/2023 and performed numerous tests and measuremetns according to the overall work plan and the objectives of RAMONES project. The purpose of this campaign was mainly two-folded. First, it provided field time for testing the currently developed prototype instruments with realistic scenarios in easily accessible sites (water depths to ~10 m). Second, it provided ground truth data from realistic case scenarios that will be used to validate instruments performance and develop surveying, monitoring, and modeling techniques.
For the completion of these goals inter- and multi-disciplinary work was performed including:
- Geological mapping of sites of interest
- Delimitation of the hydrothermal field to test prototype radioactivity detection instruments
- Field tests and measurements of radioactivity with the γSniffers and SUGI instruments, in submarine areas and tests of movements and detection of predefined targets.
- Sediment and water sampling to validate the instruments deployed within the project in realistic conditions.
- Certification of proper operation, optimization of instruments for operation in mobile underwater vehicles and collection of information (spectra, time series, etc.) from the field.
- Development of a measurement strategy in realistic conditions based on data collected in the field in collaboration with other project partners (IST-ID, NTUA, PLOA, UCA).
Despite the strong winds that affected the operations for a couple of days, the RAMONES team has managed to collect invaluable information and datasets from the field, feeling confident for success in the next stage of their technology development.