Two Russian deep-sea submersibles begin exploration work this week in Lake Geneva as part of a project coordinated by Lausanne’s Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL).
The Elemo programme, comprising 16 projects, is bringing together researchers from around the world to better understand the largest body of water in Switzerland.
This week sees researchers from Geneva University and the Eawag Aquatic Research Institute exploring the mysterious “canyons of the Rhone”, a series of sediment cliffs formed by the River Rhone at the lake bottom.
Inaugural dives took place on Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday the MIR submersibles will explore the canyons at depths of more than 200 metres and collect sediment samples.
The Elemo programme, sponsored by Ferring Pharmaceuticals, includes studies on micro pollutants, biology, geology and the physics of currents. A succession of teams will work throughout the summer on various dive sites.
Some 1.5 million people live near Lake Geneva, which provides drinking water for half of them. Almost 60 per cent of the lake is in Swiss territory with the remainder on the French side of the border.
Named Mir Iand Mir II, the submersibles used for underwater filming and research are battery-powered, three-person units with a maximum operating depth of 6,000m.