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Bridging the gap between volcano-tectonics and geochemistry

Explore the extraordinary hydrothermal system of Palaechori (Milos) with innovative marine technologies and highly sensitive geochemical techniques

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CIVIS focus area
Climate, environment and energy
Open to
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
  • PhD
Field of studies
  • Engineering & Technology
  • Environment & Agriculture
  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • Environmental sciences, Urbanism, Geography
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
8 April - 24 May

This Blended Intensive Programme is a highly innovative educational module addressing a growing demand for skilled professionals, especially in geology, chemistry, geochemistry, biology, and microbiology, who can be ground-breaking in the analysis, interpretation, representation of biogeochemistry data, specialized in areas with intense volcanic – tectonic activity. On the preparatory stage, students will familiarize themselves with the key themes and methods of the field through 6 six-hour intensive online lectures held by different CIVIS partners, by a very motivated team of experts.

The summer school will take place in Paleochori Bay in Milos (Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, Greece), with intense hydrothermal activity and participants will have the opportunity to :

  • Participate on field observations of the volcanic geomorphological features and tectonic structures in relation to hydrothermal activity
  • Entail an overview of the state-of-the-art sampling techniques and highly sensitive analytical techniques in mercury speciation
  • Use Remote Operated vehicle (ROV) for seafloor exploration

During the module, the students will practice in portable instruments for continuous seawater measurements, while ultra clean sampling techniques will be key to obtain correct chemical analysis. Beyond that, the students will receive knowledge about the need of the marine technology in seafloor exploration as ROVs represent a state-of-art technology able to directly image the submarine environment. HD underwater videos and static images will be collected to create an ad-hoc toolkit for virtual reality exploration in the underwater environment. In parallel, at the end of the course, it is planned to clean the coastal area with the aim of practical relevance to protect natural marine assets.

The Blended Intensive Programme ‘’Bridging volcano-tectonics and geochemistry” is offered to students on Degree/Masters/PhD level from equivalent fields.  The materials and experience gained from the programme evaluate the sustainability and continuity of the course in the following years among the same partners.

Main topics addressed

  • Environmental Sciences
  • Volcano-Tectonics
  • Chemistry
  • Geochemistry
  • Biology and microbiology
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Oceanography
  • Marine Technology

Learning outcomes

  • Planning and conducting fieldwork (mapping, sampling etc)
  • Recognize fault zones and volcanic features with field observations, creation of volcano-tectonic maps
  • ROV operations in active shallow hydrothermal vent fields
  • Recognize the hazards, effects, and control measures of mercury contamination
  • Develop, validate, troubleshoot of chemical analysis for mercury
  • Use of high tech instrumentation
  • Delivery of high quality environmental data
Dates: 8 April - 24 May Total workload: 126 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 5*
Location: Paleocholri, Milos, Greece Language: English (B2)
Contact: Assoc. Professor Nomikou Paraskevi  

*Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university.

Physical mobility

20 May to 24 May 2024

In the 5 days course, the hands-on programme splits in two main sections:

1) Field work techniques, that include:

  • Identification of morphotectonic features (faults, domes, craters, basins) in Milos-creation of morphotectonic maps
  • Onsite observations of the intense volcanic activity-mineralogy (vents, hot springs, etc)
  • ROV : Optical imaging, seafloor exploration
  • Measurements of physicochemical parameters in aquatic samples (temperature, salinity, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, pH etc)
  • Basic principles of sampling (devices, cleaning procedures, sterilization, packing, safety, contamination risk etc)

2) Analytical Techniques that include:

  • Determination of Total Hg and DGM. Total Hg and dissolved gaseous mercury (DGM = Hg0 + DMHg) via cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectroscopy (CVAFS; BROOKS Rand Model 3)
  • Determination of MeHg and MMHg
  • Bioconcentration-bioaccumulation. To investigate bioconcentration and bioaccumulation of different Hg species (pHg, pMMHg) along the local marine food web, we will demonstrate sample suspended particles and phytoplankton with a Teflon pump, zooplankton with nets, and local benthic biota (e.g., bivalves, annelids, corals, sponges, crustaceans, algae, and fish)
  • Quality Assurance (QA) / Quality Control (QC) of the previous processes

The combined methods allow to determine all Hg species (MMHg + DMHg = MeHg, Hg0 +DMHg = DGM, pHg, pMMHg, iHg).

Virtual part

8 April to 15 April 2024

Full-time lectures will be given by high-skilled professionals of the Universities of National and Kapodistrian of Athens (Greece), Aix-Marseille University (France) and Stockholm University (Sweden). Students will gain a strong background regarding to volcanism and the creation of hydrothermal fields in active margins as well as, the sources of mercury pollution and its biogeochemical cycle in the marine environment. The programme includes a 6-day online course of 6 hours/day. The table below shows the schedules of the course.

Day 1

  • Geology and volcano-tectonics in Hellenic Volcanic Arc (South Aegean Sea)
  • Knowing Swallow Hydrothermal fields: Milos case study

Day 2

  • Sediment Mineralogy
  • Environmental oceanography - environmental status of seabed sediments

Day 3

  • Trace metals in seawater
  • Methods and instrumentation of trace metals analysis

Day 4

  • Hg analysis
  • Hg speciation at hydrothermal vents

Day 5

  • Hg speciation at hydrothermal vents (continued)
  • Mercury bioaccumulation / Couplings to other biogeochemical cycles

Day 6

  • Role of dimethylmercury in Hg’s biogeochemical
  • Microbiology in extreme marine environments
  • Spatial Oceanography / Bio-physical interactions


This course is open to students at CIVIS member universities holding of a recognized primary degree in areas related to Environmental Sciences preferred, Geology, Marine Geology, Chemistry, Marine Chemistry, Biology, Marine Biology, Geochemistry, Geophysics, (a minimum of three years’ study at a university (i.e., 180 ECTS), or equivalent according to the European regulations).

A B2 level of English is required.

NB: Visiting Students - Erasmus Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for your selected CIVIS programme, you must be a fully enrolled student at your CIVIS home university at the time you will be undertaking the programme. Click here to learn more about the eligibility criteria.


Students from CIVIS’ strategic partner universities in Africa cannot apply for participation in this course.

Application process

Send your application by filling in the online application form by 7 November 2023 with the following documents:

  • Motivation letter
  • CV
  • Level of English (according to the CEFR)
  • Research project outlines

Apply now


At the end of each day and for the whole course, students will be requested to:

  • Report briefly (half page long “Summative Assessment”) of the main outcomes of each day
  • On the completion of chemical analysis critical thinking will be requested for comparison of the chemical results with legislation for mercury (“Benchmarking Assessment”) with the accomplishment of both online and hands-on course, students will take brief exam “final 1hour test” (successful mark above or equal 70%) for the Evaluation of performance of each activity (“Diagnostic Assessment”)
  • Students will be requested to complete course evaluation sheets

Blended Intensive Programme

This CIVIS course is a Blended Intensive Programme (BIP): a new format of Erasmus+ mobility which combines online teaching with a short trip to another campus to learn alongside students and professors across Europe. Click here to learn more about CIVIS BIPs.

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National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

  • Assoc. Prof. Paraskevi Nomikou, Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment/Dep. of Geography & Climatology - She is a marine geologist who studies the morphology of underwater volcanoes with extensive experience in marine volcanic and seafloor extruding processes. She has participated in more than 90 oceanographic cruises that focused on submarine volcanism, fault zones, landslides and slope stability and the exploration of seafloor mineral deposits. The rapid development in the field of virtual reality piqued her interest and she has been actively involved in many projects raising public awareness. She has also been involved in the evaluation of the potential geohazards associated with onshore and offshore volcanic activity. She is the Scientific Coordinator of Nisyros aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark (aUGGp).
  • Prof. Kilias Stephanos, Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment/Dept of Economic Geology and Geochemistry - He is actively involved in a variety of research areas spanning from biomineralogy and biogeochemistry, to classical metallogenetic-models, of ore deposits. For this purposes he is mainly using field mapping, ore microscopy, electron microscopies, fluid inclusion microthermometry and stable isotope geochemistry, and various spectroscopies (i.e. STXM).
  • Prof. Serafim Poulos, Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment/Dep. of Geography & Climatology - He is the Director of the Laboratory of Physical Geography. Scientific interests focus, primarily, on Oceanography and, secondarily, on Physical Geography issues related to sediment fluxes, coastal morphology, climate change impact, coastal zone management.
  • Ass. Prof. Sotiris Karavoltsos, Faculty of Chemistry/ Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry - His research interest focuses in trace metal analysis in various matrices of environmental samples such as seawater, sediments, biota, air etc., in the study of biogeochemical cycles of metals in the marine environment with emphasis on metal speciation, environmental exposure to metals, and metrological issues related to the analysis of environmental samples.
  • Dr. Stathopoulou Eleni, Faculty of Chemistry/ Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry - Her research focuses in in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea with a variety of environmental fields such as heavy metals accumulation in biota, potential impacts of dust and polluted aerosols, ocean acidification and mercury analysis in shallow hydrothermal systems.

Aix-Marseille Université (AMU)

  • Dr. Lars-Eric Heimbürger-Boavida, CR-Charge de Recherche, Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO) - He is interested in the application of novel techniques to outstanding questions on trace metal cycling in the ocean, with an emphasis on low-level speciation, stable isotopes and sensor approaches. Much of his research addresses the fundamental questions of how much mercury resides in the oceans, how much we have have added and which portion of it makes its way up the marine food chain.
  • Prof. Gael Erauso, Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO) - Her interest in Genomics and Bioinformatics. Co-Head of TGML sequencing platform at Aix-Marseille Université. Deputy director of Education at the MarMaRa Institute. He is a microbiologist who studies microorganisms from the deep ocean to learn how they evolved from prebiotic organic molecules billions of years ago.
  • Dr. Vincent Rossi, CR-Charge de Recherche, Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO) - His research focuses on developing multidisciplinary interests at the interface of Physical & Biological Oceanography. Using in-situ data, satellite archives and numerical models at multiple spatio-temporal scales, he investigates the influence of physical processes on marine ecosystems, especially in upwelling areas and boundary currents.Additional research lines focus on the transport of tracers in the ocean, the study of marine connectivity and the characterization of mesoscale physical structures using Lagrangian techniques. His interest at a glance are Bio-physical interactions in upwelling areas, Mesoscale shelf processes, Lagrangian Oceanography, Marine Ecology.

Stockholm University

  • Assoc. Prof. Sofi Jonsson, Department of Environmental Science - She is a chemist and her research focuses to improve our fundamental understanding on how mercury is methylated and bioaccumulated in coastal and oceanic systems. She has recently shown a new pathway for formation of dimethylmercury from monomethylmercury that could account for much of the dimethylmercury produced in seawater. Her research also contributes to understand how different sources or mercury are available for methylation and bioaccumulation in estuaries. She has also studied how future system changes, in increased terrestrial runoff (as predicted for some coastal regions because of global warming) may alter the methylation and bioaccumulation of mercury in coastal.