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REL Facilities

The Radioecology Laboratory has an advanced capability to undertake experimental studies on diverse marine organisms, that can simulate exposures under varying regimes of salinity, tenperature and also acidities that are projected to occur in the future, according to various IPCC carbon emission scenarios. A range of radiotracers can be used to accurately determine the biokinetics and tissue distributions under different environmental regimes.

Figure 1

REL's aquaria have a total capacity of 8000 L under running sea water system (Figure 1).

Figure 2

The seawater is pumped into the laboratory from the front of Monaco bay at 30-meter's depth, 500 meter from the laboratory at a flux rate of 7000L per hour (Figure 2).

Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5a
Figure 5b

After sand filtration (Figure 3), U.V sterilization, heating, or cooling (Figure 4), the seawater is distributed to specific aquaria from 5 to 3000L (Figure 5a & Figure 5b ). Tropical, temperate and artic ecosystem are recreated in specific tanks where the principal seawater parameters such as temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen,

Figure 6

pH are permanently controlled and registered (Figure 6).

Figure 7

Light quality, quantity, cycling can be varied for each specific microcosm, from phytoplankton cultures to the coral colony aquaria (Figure 7).

Figure 8

Reef barrier aquaria could be set up at the same time as deep sediment arctic aquaria or temperate shark aquaria on humid bench design for radiotracer work (Figure 8).

A new humid bench will be installed this autumn that will double our experimental capacity.

Figure 9

Diverse marine animals including starfish, jellyfish, sea urchin, bivalve, coral, bony fish and shark are imported from member states countries and maintained in REL's aquaria for monthly experiments, using different radiotracers in supervised areas (Figure 9).

Figure 10
Figure 11

In such facilities, fellows from Member States (Figure 10), students (Figure 11), technicians and researchers from different countries use radiotracer techniques to study pollutant impact on specific marine organisms and food chain transfers.

Figure 12

Our large REL laboratory is coupled to a counting room with NaI(Tl), HPGe, alpha spectrometers and beta counters that make it one of the most competitive units in the radioecological field (Figure 12).

Figure 13
Figure 14

General view of a laboratory used for preparing field work and for processing samples (Figures 13 and 14, Biogeochemistry Laboratory)

Figure 15 Micro-analyzer for carbon and nitrogen in marine water column and sediment particles

Two laboratories are set to work on natural levels of radioactivity. One is mostly devoted to the preparation and processing of samples collected at sea and includes all basic equipment of a wet laboratory, i.e. filtration facilities, centrifuges, ovens, freeze-dryer among others. The second one includes analytical equipment used in biogeochemistry and includes an elemental analyzer (VarioEl micro-analyzer for carbon and nitrogen), binocular microscopy facilities, spectrometer and fluorometer.

Figure 16

Large area collection (1 m2) sediment traps on board of a coastal ship used to assess vertical flux of particles and associated compounds including radionuclides (Figure 16).

Figure 17
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Figure 19

Deployment of a 2 km-long mooring line equipped with sediment traps and current meters (Figures 17 to 19).

Sequential sediment traps (mainly Technicap-PPS series) are regularly used in the field to directly assess the vertical flux of particles, carbon and associated elements including radionuclides. These are deployed either as drifting arrays during short periods (a few days) or moored to the sea-bottom for longer periods of observation (weeks to months).

Figure 20 In-situ large volume pump used in studies of particulate and dissolved material in the water column.

In-situ pumps (Figure 20) are used to filter large volumes (100 to 900 liters) of water, to collect particles and selected dissolved elements in MnO2 impregnated cartridges. These pumps deployed at different depths provide a unique tool to study vertical profiles of radionuclides, organic compounds and inorganic chemical elements.