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ITN ABYSS : the end of a oceanic story

The ABYSS adventure started in March 2014. ABYSS is a FP7 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Training Network, coordinated in Montpellier by Marguerite Godard, CNRS senior researcher. Twelve PhD students and three postdoctoral researchers were engaged in the studies of the coupled tectonic, magmatic, hydrothermal and (bio-)geochemical mechanisms that control the structure and composition of the oceanic lithosphere and the microbial habitats it provides, from mid-ocean ridges to subduction zones.

The EU network brought together 10 European research groups (Montpellier and Paris in France, Genoa and Milan in Italy, Granada in Spain, Hanover and Bremen in Germany, Southampton in the United Kingdom, Oslo and Trondheim in Norway) and 5 private sector partners, Petroceramics SpA, Statoil, Nordic Mining AsA, Merience Stategic Thinking and Voxaya, the start-up nurtured in Géosciences Montpellier, which joined the consortium in 2016.

The young ABYSS researchers received training in Geodynamics, Mineralogy, Hydrodynamics, Thermodynamics and (Bio-)Geochemistry through a structured and extensive program of short courses, collaboration and student exchange. In particular, scientific workshops were regularly organized to promote exchanges between network researchers and prestigious invited speakers. Field trips in the Ligurian ophiolites (Sestri Levante, photo), Roros in Norway and in Cyprus were also organized to observe in exposed mantle and crustal sections, the magmatic and, locally, hydrothermal processes acting in the formation and evolution of the oceanic lithosphere.

Finally, the ABYSS researchers had the unique opportunity to visit three European research institutes, world-renowned for the development of marine technology for the geological and biological exploration of the deep (sub-)seafloor : the IFREMER Research Center from La Seyne-sur-Mer in 2014, the MARUM Research Center in Bremen, which also hosts one of the three IODP core repositories, in 2015 and the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS) in 2017. The young ABYSS researchers have created a blog in which day after day, they recorded together their adventures in research.

ABYSS ended in February 2018. The success is there as expected when one gives significant resources to produce top-level scientific research. Eight of the 12 thesis students are now Doctors, the others are in “full speed” writing mode. 39 articles are currently published or in revision for publication in high impact international scientific reviews and an ABYSS special volume is in preparation for the journal Lithos. The young researchers of the ABYSS network have also been very active in the national and international scientific congresses : in four years, they presented more than 100 communications/abstracts, on their own research project or in collaboration, some of them in the two ABYSS special sessions organized at EGU and AGU in 2017.

At Géosciences Montpellier, Dr. Carlotta Ferrando now enjoys the publication of her first article (press section, this issue) and is preparing to the next step with a post-doctoral fellowship at the petrographic and geochemical research center (CRPG) in Nancy. Sofia Escario is perfecting the last results before the final big talk. Following his post-doc, Pavel Smal joined the industry and now works for ASML, one of the world’s leading machine manufacturers for the semiconductor industry ... Geosciences lead to everything !