IDMAR (Laboratory Distributed on the SEA) is the project for the construction of the largest multidisciplinary laboratory for the scientific and technological marine research in Europe.

IDMAR puts on the net the Sicilian poles of Portopalo, Catania, Milazzo, Palermo and Capo Granitola, through an upgrade project of Research Infrastructures (RI) already inserted in PNIR (Piano Nazionale delle Infrastrutture di Ricerca) of the Ministero Università e Ricerca (MUR). The project with a partnership composed of INFN-Laboratori del Sud (leader), INGV (Section in Palermo) and CNR-IAS, aims at the creation of multidisciplinary and interconnected laboratories distributed over the sea, for the socio-economic development of the territory by the Sicilian Region which finances a 40 million euro project with a contribution of 20 million*.

IDMAR aims to put in synergy the existing research infrastructures, the scientific skills and the technologies of the bodies participating in the project with the purpose of promoting Sicily as a pole of world excellence in research, development, systems testing and equipment for monitoring and sustainable development of the marine environment. The Project, started on March 23, 2017 and will expire on December 31, 2021.

The strengthening of the IDMAR site in Palermo, entrusted to INGV, will allow the construction of an avant-garde headquarters equipped with mechanical and electronic laboratories for the development of new monitoring systems of the marine environment, in real time, and a data center on GARR network connected to a monitoring room.

The upgrade will develop a new fleet of multidisciplinary observatories equipped with new generation sensors for the study of the marine environment from low depth to the abyss and for the collection of multi-parametric data over long periods. Strengths of the new observers are both the structural features (compact and easily relocatable) and a data acquisition system to give answers, ranging from submarine volcanism to climatic variations and the anthropic impact on delicate marine ecosystems.

The INGV will also enhance the Milazzo office, making it the base of the fleet of observers for submarine monitoring, able to set up new platforms for upgrading the infrastructure. The INGV operational headquarters in Milazzo, in particular, will ensure rapid displacement of the network of observers between the Aeolian Islands, Strait of Messina and Lower Tyrrhenian Sea in synergy with other research projects, with monitoring activities already planned, and extraordinary campaigns (for example anti-pollution monitoring and underwater acoustic surveys).

The offices of Portopalo, Catania and Capo Granitola will guarantee the activities respectively in the Ionian and in the Strait of Sicily. The data acquired and managed by the Sicilian nodes will be shared on the network, allowing national and international scientific communities to access a unique amount of information.

The presence of a research infrastructure with these characteristics could represent a pole of attraction for scientific and industrial investments (national and international) on the Sicilian territory. The presence of an integrated research platform in the marine environment will represent a natural driving force for the development of new entrepreneurship in highly technological and continuously developing sectors.

*PO FESR 2014-2020 – Priority axis 1 Research, Technological Development and Innovation – Action 1.5.1 “Support for research infrastructures considered strategic for the Regional Systems for the purposes of implementing the S3 Sicily”.