Boosting the future of marine research with GEOMAR

Our Science

27 February 2024

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Together we are strengthening international cooperation in ocean science.

Our new joint agreement will significantly boost New Zealand’s ability to undertake marine geology research.

A new era of discovery and exploration

New Zealand and German scientists have been working closely on exploring in our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for decades. This week we are celebrating a significant milestone in our partnership.

Following the signing of a cooperation agreement between GNS Science and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR), cooperation between the two countries in the field of ocean science has been strengthened. The agreement will see GNS and GEOMAR pooling their resources to investigate offshore subduction zone processes, submarine volcanoes, and diagnosing coast and ocean health.

In the near future this will mean a focus on the Hikurangi subduction zone east of the North Island and the 2000 km-long chain of under-sea volcanoes in the Kermadec Arc, northeast of Bay of Plenty.

The five-year agreement was signed for GNS Science by Chief Scientist, Prof. Gary Wilson, and by GEOMAR Director Prof. Dr.  Katja Matthes.

RV Sonne docked at Wellington Harbour on March 2016

In the past 30 years, the two organisations have worked closely together. This new agreement encourages more frequent exchanges of equipment and personnel plus longer-term and more ambitious joint projects and potentially tapping into Horizon Europe Pillar 2 funding.

GEOMAR is one of Europe’s largest marine research organisations with over 900 scientists.

Gary Wilson said the new joint agreement with GEOMAR would significantly boost New Zealand’s ability to undertake marine geology research.

Our two organisations share a similar vision of discovery and exploration, and this MoU heralds a new era by supporting us in our research beneath the waves surrounding New Zealand

Gary Wilson Chief Scientist GNS Science

The agreement potentially gives GNS more access to some of the world’s top marine research equipment and science expertise.

Christian Berndt said that GEOMAR has long benefited from close research links with GNS Science across a range of marine science disciplines too. Christian says, "This new agreement solidifies our relationship at a time when German-New Zealand science initiatives are thriving."

In the next few years, Germany’s research vessel RV Sonne will undertake several large-scale projects in New Zealand waters to explore various topics including submarine landslides, arc volcanism and subduction zone processes.

Christian Berndt Head of Department Marine Geodynamics GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

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