“This centre represents a boost for Norway as a nation of knowledge,” said Norway’s Minister of Education and Research, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, attending the foundation laying ceremony for the new Centre for deep marine research at the University of Bergen.
One of the Centre for Geobiology’s goals is to acquire new basic knowledge about the origins of life combining the knowledge of geology and biology. In their search for knowledge the researchers study the microbiology close to underwater volcanoes and hydrothermal vents in the deep sea, organisms that need neither oxygen nor sunlight to sustain life. These microorganisms can answer questions about the roots of life on Earth and may be able to tell us something about life arose on our planet. A new ROV costing around NOK 40 million (approximately 5 million Euros) will form the core of the new centre. The ROV can swoop to 6,000 meters, which is about 2,000 meters deeper than similar previous vehicles.
Although the new centre will primarily engage in basic research, the Centre Director Rolf Birger Pedersen suggested at the launch that this research may lead to commercial activities in the long run. “As well as oil reserves, there may be valuable metal deposits,” said Pedersen who suggested that values of several thousand billions NOK may lay hidden under the seabed. “But this also offers new environmental challenges.”