JC010: Mud volcanoes and submarine canyons


Meet...Veerle Huvenne, researcher

Veerle is a marine geologist at NOCS. On board Veerle has a number of jobs:

  • She provides support for the real time planning and running of the GIS (Geographical Information System) which means she uses the interactive maps to advise on suitable locations to study and advises on potential hazards.  Veerle ensures the maps are kept up-to-date with information about previous sampling points, where cables run across the ocean floor, topographical details and in fact any thing that has a spatial reference and so can be plotted on a three dimensional map.
  • Veerle plans and processes SWATH surveys and provides the visualisation of it from raw data (numbers!!)
  • Veerle is a watch leader on board and so is responsible for co-ordinating her team members and ensuring that tasks that need to be done are carried out in an effective and timely way.
  • Veerle’s scientific research interests are to do with habitat mapping.  She will analyse what can be seen, mapping species location and the sedimentary environment of deep-sea communities such as cold water corals on canyon habitats.  To do this she will analyse the sediment type,  seabed morphology, water parameters etc and build up an idea about the habitat parameters.  What different species need to survive and why. This information can then be used and developed further by scientists who are working on predictive models, looking at the types of habitats certain species need and therefore where you are most likely to find them.


To become a research scientist Veerle first took a degree in Bio-Engineering/Soil And Water Management, she then went on to do a Masters Degree in Oceanography with the University of Southampton.  Later retuning to the University of Ghent in Belgium she gained her PhD in Marine Geology.  Now Veerle undertakes various post doctoral research projects and now Veerle carries out her own research as part of the Geology and Geophysics department in the NOCS.



To become a research scientist needs a variety of skills including the:

  • Ability to work independently. Veerle is responsible for her own research.
  • Ability to accept advice from other people. Working in such a multi-disciplinary environment means that Veerle often needs to consults scientists in other specialised fields of interest.
  • Desire to travel.  Just keeping up-to-date with research from around the world requires Veerle to travel widely.  She has been to conferences in many countries including Portugal, Miami, Barcelona, Scotland, Paris.  These conferences are a great opportunity to meet other scientists and find out about their research, making contacts so that combined projects are a possibility.  And then of course Veerle travels with the oceanographic survey ships every year.

To work on board the ship Veerle needs other skills, she needs to be:

  •      Flexible, to help out where required
  •      A team player with a good sense of humour, vital when working closely with other people on a ship for months.

To work on geographical mapping Veerle needs to have:

  • Good spatial awareness
  • A mathematical mind
  • Ability to visualise things in three dimensions


Interests and Hobbies.

When she when has the time Veerle really enjoys getting out and climbing mountains.  When not climbing mountains she is travelling around Europe visiting family and friends.


If you have any questions, please ask us using our Question and Answer page!

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