Project Report 2018
An international team of GUE divers ran a two week operation on the coastline of Sardinia, in collaboration with the researchers of ISPRA and Rome University “La Sapienza”. The area of interest is located in the Gulf of Orosei, where some major springs bring the water of the inland aquifer from the plateau of Supramonte to the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. There is hundreds of caverns on the coastline and at least five massive systems where conditions are ideal for research and documentation of geological and paleontological aspects. These systems, once dry, not only present ancient speleothems, halocline, hydrogen sulphide and branching passages which hide fossilised bones of extinct animals, but potentially they will also be included in a Marine Protected Area in the near future.
The original project in 2013 opened up multiple opportunities for collaboration with research institutes and Universities; nowadays we are carrying out a five year campaign dedicated to analysis of benthic foraminifera, small organisms which usually live in marine and transitional sediments, to recognise distinct ecological zones in these caves as well as their behaviour in “extreme environments”. Initially the project focused on two caves (Bel Torrente and Bue Marino) but we extended the research to the other systems (Utopia, in 2018; Cala Luna planned in 2019).The project is also devoted to document conditions and position of the fossilised bones found in Bel Torrente cave, with photogrammetry and photomosaic technique. Current theories propose that their position (quite far from the entrance) is due to a different origin, due to the fresh water input from the inland aquifer during rainy periods. Interestingly enough, there is still no found connection between the massive fresh water aquifer under Supramonte plateau and the coastal caves, despite it has been proven with dye tracing testing.In 2018, the project ran operations that involved 40 GUE divers and local volunteers, accomplishing water and sediment samples collection, survey, photo, and video documentation, general scouting of the caves to get a better understanding of the systems and exploring the surface area to evaluate possible connections between dry and flooded passages of the caves.
In 2019, the project will run multiple sessions in order to collect the detailed survey data required by researchers to geo-reference stations, both for Project Baseline and sampling purposes. It will be a serious effort also working again on the paleontological aspects, trying to create a better digital model of the bones and their position in the caves, to have an updated situation and evaluate both surge and atrophic impact on them.