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Developing innovative research for the study of deep water fossilised corals

3d coral scansOne of the key elements in understanding the deep water marine environment is the detailed study of the growth of corals and their micro-environment. Such work requires detailed observations of coral shape and structure, growth rates and identification of other organisms growing on corals. Such work requires tedious observations, which, when performed through traditional methods, face limitations in the number of possible measurements and analyses, including accuracy. Consequently, the marine environment team of the Energy, Environment and Water Research Center collaborated with the digital heritage team of the Science and Technology in Archaeology Research Center and discussed the possibility to 3D scan these corals. The interest was sparked by a limitation on the time available for the study of a deep water fossilised coral sample (facilitated by the Geological Survey Department of Cyprus) which was collected at the Eratosthenes sea mount last year.

A reflection on the preliminary results of the investigation has shown however the potential that such approach has on the study of corals. The 3D scan returned a digital replica with an accuracy of a few microns, enabling any measurement along the most difficult surface, allowing a 3D analysis of the morphology of the coral and comparisons between individuals of the same species growing under different environmental conditions. This is the first stage of a long-term cross-centre collaboration which exemplifies the benefits of working in a multi-disciplinary environment.