DSSV pressure drop

Minderoo-UWA Deep-Sea Research Centre

Exploring and mapping the deepest areas of the Indian Ocean

A partnership between


The University of Western Australia and Minderoo Foundation have joined forces to establish a world leading deep-ocean research centre, to increase understanding about the deepest parts of the ocean through research at depths of six to eleven kilometres below the surface, known as the Hadal zone.

The Minderoo-UWA Deep-Sea Research Centre has been supported with a major five-year grant from Minderoo Foundation’s Flourishing Oceans initiative, as part of its commitment to increasing knowledge of the deep sea and to return the oceans to a healthy, thriving state.

Deep sea fauna
Deep sea fauna


Our knowledge of the world’s oceans is strong along coastal areas, but we live in surprising ignorance of the deep sea – the largest habitat for life on earth.

This partnership is a joint commitment to increase knowledge of the deep-sea in terms of biodiversity, ocean processes such as currents and circulation, and human impacts, including climate change. We aim to comprehensively explore the deepest areas of the Indian Ocean – mapping the ocean floor, discovering new species, assessing marine biodiversity, and charting deep-sea habitats. 

Indian Ocean in context


The Indian Ocean is the world’s third largest ocean spanning more than 70 million square kilometres and accounting for almost 20 per cent of the world’s ocean area. Despite its size and important role for coastal communities across three continents, including a vital place for life in Western Australia, it remains the least understood of the world’s oceans. Very little is known about the marine fauna and species at its depths, and much of the seafloor remains uncharted. This new research centre will allow us to explore and better understand our vast local marine estate. 

Key Focus Areas

Perth Canyon Abyssal Observatory

On the edge of the continental shelf, at just 20 kilometres west of Rottnest Island, lies the Perth Canyon. This winding chasm on the seabed is the length of the Grand Canyon, and twice as deep reaching 4000 metres below the surface. The new research centre will allow better understanding of this nearby natural feature than ever before, through establishing the Perth Canyon Abyssal Observatory. Equipped with time-lapsed camera systems, this observatory will allow long-term observation of animal populations and environmental processes.  

Mapping the Seafloor

Little of the vast Indian Ocean has currently been mapped in detail. The research centre aims to increase the seafloor mapping of the Indian Ocean, focussing on the high priority areas in the East Indian Ocean regions and within Western Australia’s Economic Exclusion Zone. Data collected by the research centre will be shared nationally and internationally.  


Over the course of five years, the research centre will undertake several expeditions. Taking place over 2-4 weeks, these voyages of discovery will allow the deployment of deep-sea landers to the help us understand the biodiversity, habitats, and population structure of the deep-sea communities. 


Current Expedition

May 2021

A research team from UWA and Minderoo, headed by Alan Jamieson, is currently on expedition aboard the DSSV Pressure Drop, exploring the abyssal and hadal  zones and continental shelf of Western Australia as the team travels between Dampier and Fremantle. You can read more about this expedition and keep up with their activities at here: 

Read more

Alan jamieson

Founding Director

Professor Alan Jamieson

Professor Alan Jamieson is a biologist, engineer, adventurer, explorer, and author. He has worked in the deep-sea for over 20 years, and has had a significant impact on the field in this time. He has published over 110 scientific papers, has been involved in over 70 deep-sea expeditions, and has conducted research in every one of the world’s oceans. His work has also featured in the BBC’s Blue Planet II, and NHK’s Deep Ocean, Descent into the Mariana Trench documentaries.

Alan joins the School of Biological Sciences and Oceans Institute as the Founding Director of the new Minderoo-UWA Deep-Sea Research Centre. He, his team of postdocs and PhD students, as well as the Centre itself, will be based in the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre (IOMRC) building on UWA Crawley campus.


Deep Sea Facilities

The recently constructed multifunctional centre is supported by state-of-the-art facilities. The laboratory will be the place where deep-sea instruments are prepared for deployment, data are analysed, and samples processed. The lab will benefit from being close to extensive resources, including an on-site engineering and oceanographic support expertise and is adjacent to two busy marine molecular biology laboratories hosted in the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre. 

Explore with us

Looking to join our next underwater expedition? Over the coming years, there will be opportunities and scholarships for PhD students as well as positions for professional and academic staff. 

The Deep-Sea Research Centre is multidisciplinary and welcomes new research collaborations.  Join the Oceans Institute community t to stay up to date with opportunities like this and more. 

Reach out to us at oceans@uwa.edu.au or by calling +61 8 6488 8123.

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