Trieste, Santa Croce, Italy


BioMarineLab (IT1.2)

Ecological laboratory for microcosm / mesocosm experiments

The OCE Division of OGS offers a wide range of laboratories and technical and scientific facilities. This installation is equipped for studies in the marine biology field concerning biogeochemical analysis of sediments and overlayer water, characterization of plankton community from prokaryotes to zooplankton, characterization of benthic community from prokaryotes to macrobenthos, identification of the role of biological activities in the release (community respiration processes) or in the uptake (photosynthetic processes of phytoplankton and microphytobenthos) of CO2 in the water column and at the sediment-water interface, evaluation of microbial activities variation as consequence of CO2 concentration changes, determination of prokaryotic community structure, toxicological and physiological responses of invertebrates.

The installation is complemented by equipment for measurements of physical parameters in the water column (CTD probe, Profiling Natural Fluorimeter, etc), for samples collection (e.g rosette, boxcorer, plankton net, grab, etc), and with dark and transparent benthic chambers useful to perform in situ benthic flux measurements and to assess the potential importance of sediment-water nutrients exchanges for respiration and production processes. The equipment and expertise in the installation allow the determination of the main parameters necessary to describe both the carbonate system and the organic carbon cycle in order to fully characterize marine sites in terms of leakage detection and quantification.

Areas of research

The laboratories support research on climate change, ocean acidification, CCS (effect of CO2 leakage on marine ecosystem) biogenic element cycles and anthropogenic impacts on the marine environment and they are structured to carry out research on biodiversity from both a morphological, through direct observation under the microscope, and molecular viewpoints. 

State of the Art, uniqueness & specific advantages

The installation has been and is actually used within national and EC-funded research and demonstration projects in the fields of Energy, Environment and Marine Sciences, in the framework of CO2GeoNet Network of Excellence and in other CO2 related projects. Recently, the installation has been used for defining the base-line in the off-shore area considered for the Porto Tolle CO2 storage demonstration project (in Northern Adriatic). This installation may be considered “unique” due to its proximity to the sea, the availability of running seawater and the existing collection of planktonic organisms. The availability of thermostatic chambers equipped with aquaria and photobioreactors allows to perform ecological and ecophysiological studies under controlled conditions (light, temperature, pH, salinity and pCO2), in order to estimate the immediate and long term effects of CO2 exposure on organisms and communities.

Scientific Environment

The BioMarine Lab installation is located in the Gulf of Trieste - Northern Adriatic Sea - Italy. Marine Chemistry and Biology Laboratories are equipped with instrumentation dedicated to the chemical characterisation of water, sediment and particulate matter and the determination of stable isotope ratios of elements such as carbon and nitrogen. They include equipment for the study of planktonic, demersal and benthic communities, their diversity and their role in ecosystem functioning. The chemical laboratories are divided into: chemical oceanography laboratory, sediment biogeochemistry laboratory and elemental and stable isotope analysis laboratory. The activities in the different laboratories are done in a coordinated and unified manner in order to ensure data sharing and interoperability. The marine biology laboratories consist mainly of plankton and benthos laboratories, together with radionuclide and molecular biology laboratories. All analytical activities carried out in the laboratories are offered by this installation. The technical and logistic support offered to users will be guaranteed both inside the laboratories and during field activities. The laboratories also provide high-level training to undergraduates and PhD students in scientific disciplines.

Operating by


Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale
STORAGE technologies:
Leakage, Leakage mitigation/remediation, Monitoring
Research Fields:
Chemistry/Geochemistry, Microbiology, Ecosystem, Monitoring, Physical processes
Facility's fact sheet

Location & Contacts

Trieste, Santa Croce, Italy
Cinzia De Vittor
RICC Contacts - Secondary contact
Cinzia De Vittor

Facility Availability

Unit of access (UA)
Availability per year (in UA)
Minimum 10 days
Duration of a typical access (average) and number of external users expected for that access
5-10 Days
Average number of external users expected for typical access
1-3 users

Quality Control / Quality Assurance (QA)

Activities / tests / data are
Controlled: Data quality is controlled utilising internal standard, certified material and inter-comparison exercises (e.g. QUASIMEME)

Operational or other constraints

Specific risks:
Legal issues

CCUS Projects

EU-Funded CCUS Projects
RISCS (Research into Impacts and Safety in CO2 Storage)
ECO2 (Sub-seabed CO2 Storage: Impact on Marine Ecosystems)

Selected Publications

Energy Procedia 59: 397-403 (2014)
Preliminary experiments and modelling of the fate of CO2 bubbles in the water column near Panarea Island (Italy)
Beaubien S.E., De Vittor C., Mcginnis D.F., Bigi S., Comici C., Ingrosso G., Lombardi S., Ruggiero L.
International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 40: 350–377 (2015)
Developments since 2005 in understanding potential environmental impacts of CO2 leakage from geological storage
Jones D.G., Beaubien S.E., Blackford J.C., Foekema E.M., Lions J., De Vittor C., West J.M., Widdicombe S., Hauton C., Queirós A.M.
Marine Environmental Research 118: 31-44 (2016)
Microphytobenthic community composition and primary production at gas and thermal vents in the Aeolian Islands (Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy).
Rogelja M., Cibic T., Pennesi C., De Vittor C.
Estuarine Coastal Shelf Science, 168: 58-70 (2016)
Drivers of the carbonate system seasonal variation in a Mediterranean gulf.
Ingrosso G., Giani G., Comici C., Kralj M., Piacentino S., De Vittor C., Del Negro P.
Water,12, 3573; doi:10.3390/w12123573 (2020)
Stable Carbon Isotopes of Phytoplankton as a Tool to Monitor Anthropogenic CO2 Submarine Leakages.
Relitti F., Ogrinc N., Giani M., Cerino F., Smodlaka Tankovic M., Baricevic A., Urbini L., Bor Krajnc B., Del Negro P., De Vittor C