Training-Through-Research: ‘The Floating University’


Combining shipboard research and training with annual oceanographic cruises, conferences and exchanges of students and researchers in a cutting-edge frontier field of investigations (poorly known interactive processes in the deep ocean) is the idea underpinning the Floating University.

During the period 1991-2005, 15 major training-through-research cruises were conducted in the Mediterranean and Black Seas and in the northeastern Atlantic. Twelve post-cruise conferences were held. A number of other field exercises (including smaller cruises), group and individual training activities, and presentation and publication of the research results, were carried out. Over 500 scientists and students from 30 countries have taken part in the training-through-research cruises. Impacts have included important discoveries (e.g. of numerous mud volcanoes in the Gulf of Cadiz, giant cold-water carbonate mounds in the northeastern Atlantic), with a number of the participants going on to become recognized leaders in their fields of research. As often the case, central to the success of the programme has been the commitment and enthusiasm of a closely knit group of knowledgeable scientists from a handful of countries, who have overseen and guided the full spectrum of work, from data collection through analyses to the publication of results.

In the southern hemisphere, the University of the Sea 2006 Cruise in the South Pacific took place from 7-26 February. Nineteen students from seven countries (including Fiji and Solomon Islands) took part in the IOC-sponsored Asia-Pacific 'Training-Through-Research' cruise organized by the Australian National University's 'University of the Sea'. Departing from Auckland, the French Marion Dufresne vessel went via Noumea to finish in Sydney. The training was associated with a research programme developed by marine geoscientists from Geoscience Australia to evaluate the gas hydrates ('frozen' methane) in ocean sediments.

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