Scientific diving school Panarea

25-30 SEPTEMBER, 2019
Published time: 01 March, 2019 12:00

The school

The International Scientific Diving Summer School, hosted at the ECCSEL NatLab Italy at Panarea (Eolian Islands, Italy), offers scientific training for researchers, professionals and volunteers willing to enhance their knowledge on the submarine environment, particularly on subjects related to the effects of climate changes, ocean acidification and CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage).

Participants, supported by research institute, University experts and professional divers, will have the unique possibility to explore and investigate the chemical, biological and geological characteristics of a natural acidified laboratory, combining a strong scientific preparation with extensive practical experience of gathering underwater samples and data. 


Panarea Island is located in the Aeolian Archipelago, in Southern Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the smallest of the Aeolian Islands and, together with the surrounding islets, represents the emerged portions of a larger submarine quiescent stratovolcano characterized by the presence of active extensional faults.

Around the island various submerged vents fields occur, where hydrothermal CO2 leaks at substantial rates from the seafloor. This natural CO2-release field has been active for centuries, but at the end of 2002 a violent gas outburst occurred, responsible of the formation of a wide crater and the emission of huge quantities of CO2and H2S in the surrounding waters, that killed most of the benthic and nektonic fauna.

The geographical position of Panarea (isolated from the mainland), the presence of natural emissions of CO2and other gases also in shallow water depths (from 5 to 30 m), and the still active volcanism, make this island a unique natural laboratory for scientific diving investigations.

These have included studies of the geochemical composition of the hydrothermal fluids, research to understand the impact of COon the marine environment and on benthic and pelagic organisms, and for testing of various monitoring devices and procedures in the framework of CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage).

For these unique characteristics the island was chosen to host the Panarea ECCSEL NatLab Italy, managed by OGS with the support of La Sapienza University of Rome, which is dedicated to study CCS, ocean acidification and climate change effects on marine ecosystems.


After two national editions, the first international edition took place in 2018, with teachers from La Sapienza University of Rome (Earth Sciences Department), INGV (National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, section of Palermo), OGS (National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics) and the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn (Naples).

The school manages both teaching and research activities, involving students in the observation, measurement and interpretation of data collected during the scientific scuba dives. Teaching and learning are organized in theoretic lessons, practical activities, and laboratory analyses followed by elaboration and interpretation of the obtained field data. Theoretical lessons cover topics such as oceanography, geology, geochemistry, volcanology and biology, focusing on marine geology and volcanology, hydrothermalism, climate change and ocean acidification, experimental design and sampling. Particularly, the lessons aim to explain the fundamentals of the adopted methodologies, the procedures for collecting data and samples and the approaches to elaborate and interpret them.

Underwater activities will include mapping and measuring (e.g. measuring and labelling distances, deploy a transect, measuring patterns, measuring fractures in substratum, prospecting, installing a grid); sampling of fluids (sea water, hydrothermal water and gas); sampling of sediments; sampling of rocks; use of multiparametric probes, sampling of benthic organisms with semi-quantitative and quantitative methods, visual census. 

During the practical underwater activities, students will learn the use of specific tools for research and measurements, provided by the involving Institutions. This will include the Niskin bottle, the benthic chamber, the ”air-lift” for benthos sampling, the deployment and recovery of a multiparametric probe, or other instruments specifically set up for CO2monitoring by participating institutions, such as the GasPro probes and a monitoring dive to the seafloor observatory of the INGV (an infrastructure equipped with probes and hydrophones which allows the continuous monitoring of several parameters). 

After the dive, all measurements taken underwater by the participants will be transferred into the NatLab facility and the obtained data will be elaborate organizing them in tables, classifying biological samples and analyzing gas and water samples, under the supervision of teachers. The meaning and the interpretation of the results, also compared with the datasets collected in the previous editions of the school, are discussed during these activities and shared with all the students.

School diploma

The diploma of the Summer School of Panarea will certified the number of hours of underwater working and the hours of lessons. This will be useful for the acquirement of the European Scientific Diver (ESD and AESD) license by the European Scientific Diving Panel, represented in Italy by the AIOSS, that already endorsed the past two national editions of the School. 

References: Click here for a list of related scientific papers

Flyer of the edition 2019 of the school: Click on the image below to download the flyer (.pdf)

Application form: Click here to download the application form (.docx)

Open Call for Applications

The school is open to students, graduates, specialists, PhD and post-doctoral students in scientific disciplines and professionals engaged in the study and management of the land/sea.

Topics will cover the geological characteristics of the unique active volcanic area of Panarea island, its biological components adapted to the naturally acidified vents systems, and the hydrothermal fluids characterization.

Participants will be trained in multi-parameter monitoring techniques and definition of experimental protocols for the sampling and study of the benthic communities, with special focus on assessing effects of climate change and ocean acidification on organisms, communities and ecosystem/habitat.


Teaching Program

The course consists of 20 hours of multidisciplinary theoretical and practical lessons and 5 scientific dives.

Lectures concern topics of Physical, Chemical and Biological Oceanography, Marine Ecology and Earth Sciences, with specific focus on marine geology and volcanology, marine hydrothermal systems, climate change and ocean acidification, experimental design and sampling.

Diving activities include mapping techniques, water sampling (with Niskin bottles and benthic chamber), gas and sediment sampling, multiparametric probe positioning, gas flow measurements, visual census techniques, benthic composition and macroalgal coverage measurements, shoot density and plant phenology evaluation of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica meadow


Teaching Staff

Cinzia De Vittor (OGS, Trieste), Sabina Bigi (Sapienza University, Roma) Maria Cristina Gambi (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Napoli), Manfredi  Longo (INGV, Palermo), Marco Munari (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Napoli), Nuria Teixidò (Observatoire Oceanologique de Villefranche sur Mer, France), Rocco Auriemma (OGS, Trieste), Valentina Esposito (OGS, Trieste).



Any kind of diving license with at least 20 certified dives is required; a medical certificate for diving activity not older than 1 year; DAN (or equivalent) insurance for underwater activities.


Required Equipment

Participants must be provided with complete diving equipment, jacket, 2 regulators or octopus, underwater diving computer, underwater whiteboard, underwater net and compass. Tanks and weight belt are included in the participation fee.

If necessary, it will be possible to rent the needed equipment at the Amphibia diving at Panarea.



For theoretical lessons, laboratory exercises and underwater activities (5 dives) the cost is € 350,00 per person (to be paid directly to the Diving Center Amphibia).

Accommodation costs in an affiliated Hotel will be € 50,00 (single room/day), € 60,00 (double room/day), € 80,00 (triple room/day).

Dinner in an affiliated restaurant will be € 18,00; 10% reduction on lunch in an affiliated restaurant will be also available.

Payments will be made by participants directly to the affiliated structures.


Location and Logistics

The school will be held in Panarea (Aeolian Archipelago, Italy) at the ECCSEL NatLab Italy, located in San Pietro road. Panarea Island can be easily reached is by ferry from Naples, where there is an International airport. Additional information on how to reach Panarea and where to stay will be provided to candidates by e-mail.


How to Apply

Fill and send the application form with all your personal and educational information, plus a Curriculum Vitae with specific reference to your diving experience, no later than 31  May 2019 at

Minimum number of participants for the School to be held is set to 8; maximum number of participants is 12.

Admission to the Summer School is subjected to the requirements mentioned above, and to the assessment of the organizers and teachers. Admitted students will be contacted directly to the email address they have indicated.

A participation certificate will be issued and the scientific dives will be considered for getting the license of European Scientific Diver or Advance European Scientific Diver.