The Porcupine Abyssal Plain (PAP) Observatory

PAP logoThe Porcupine Abyssal Plain (PAP) Observatory is a sustained, multidisciplinary observatory in the North Atlantic coordinated by the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. For over 20 years the observatory has provided key time-series datasets for analysing the effect of climate change on the open ocean and deep-sea ecosystems.

Upper Ocean

The North Atlantic is made up of a complicated layering of currents going in many different directions

Mid Ocean

The twilight zone is the upper part of the ocean where sunlight is able to penetrate



Since 1996, an important change has taken place in the numbers of creatures living over a large area of the North Eastern Atlantic sea floor

Latest News and Updates

Cruise DY050

May 2016 – Our recent cruise to the PAP on RRS Discovery (DY050) was a real success. We have collected data from the sea surface to the seabed and will be working on many samples and data sets for the next twelve months. We were lucky to see the beginning of the spring bloom and have really benefited from an early visit to our site. The weather was kind and we lost only a few hours to sea state. 

To get more details on our research interests, please follow this link to read the blogs from the cruise:

preparing for DY050

RRS Discovery DY050 cruise to the PAP observatory

RRS Discovery is alongside in Southampton preparing for our cruise to the PAP observatory in April. We plan to set sail on 18th April to service the PAP moorings with PI Mark Stinchcombe. We intend to recover and redeploy the PAP moorings as usual. We hope that our earlier cruise date will allow us to measure then onset of the spring bloom. We will be sampling using corers, moored traps, lagrangian traps, pumps, snow catchers and CTDs.

Follow the cruise and the participants on the blog:

PAP publications 2015

PAP publications for 2015  have been added to our publication page. 2015 was a great year for Deep Seas PhD students, please read about their excellent work.

PAP publications update;

PAP publications update; Jen Durden who is just finishing her PhD here at NOC already has two papers published on her work on the abyssal benthos at the PAP site, including new insights on the importance of a predatory anemone called Iosactis, pictured in Jen’s photograph below.

Please click on the links to find out more about…..

Iosactis, the predatory anemone:

and the different megafaunal communities on the hills and plain at PAP:

Information for…


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Principal scientists

All updated information for cruise participants can be found using the Marine Facilities Planning website: