The Marine Information System

The IAEA's Marine Information System is a relational database, based on GIS (Geographical Information System), covering the distribution of radioactive and stable isotopes, and in the near future also other tracers (organic compounds, trace metals) in the marine environment. MARIS also includes oceanographic parameters, such as seawater temperature, salinity and bathymetry. The database was developed in the Radiometrics Laboratory of the IAEA's Environment Laboratories (IAEA-EL) in Monaco. The map below shows the distribution of sites for which data on radionuclides in the World's oceans and seas were entered into the database.

World Map The first main objective of MARIS is to provide information on the radioactive contamination of the marine environment. Formerly this function was supported by the Global Marine Radioactivity Database (GLOMARD). MARIS contains data on the most important radionuclides in the world's oceans and seas, (in the open sea as well as in coastal zones), specifically in seawater, particulate matter, biota and sediment. These data originate from published scientific papers, reports and databases created within institutes or scientific programmes in Member States and can be used with appropriate quotation of sources and references. Quantification of contributions from the sources of radionuclides in the world's oceans and seas, computer modelling of the dispersion of radionuclides and radiological assessment studies require that IAEA's Member States be provided with information on the past and present levels of radionuclides in the marine environment. The IAEA acts as a clearing-house for information on radioactive contaminants in the marine environment and makes data on marine radionuclide levels available to Member States for future assessment studies and the evaluation of trends in contamination of the marine environment. In this respect IAEA-EL Monaco has been acting as a central facility for the collection, synthesis and interpretation of data on marine radioactivity in the world ocean with the aim:
  • to provide immediate and up-to-date information on radionuclide levels and inventories in the seas and oceans;
  • to provide a snap-shot of radionuclide levels at any time in any location;
  • to investigate changes with time in radionuclide levels and inventories;
  • to provide data for validation of models on the dispersion of radionuclides in the marine environment,
  • to provide bases for assessments of radiation doses to local, regional and global human populations and to marine biota, and
  • to identify gaps in available information.

The data provided by MARIS will be used as the international reference source on radionuclide contamination of the marine environment so that any further contributions from nuclear industry, radioactive waste disposal sites, nuclear weapons test sites and possible nuclear accidents can be identified.

The second main objective of MARIS is to provide information on distribution of radioactive and stable isotopes, tracer metals and organic compounds in the world oceans and seas, which could be used as tracers for investigation of marine processes. This part of the database will be growing substantially in the near future, so that data on all important oceanic tracers will be available to IAEA's Members States for oceanographic investigations. The data stored in MARIS could be used for water and sediment dynamics studies, investigation of processes in the water column, seawater-sediment interactions, seawater-groundwater interactions, etc., as well as for validation of models used in climate change studies. Data on supporting oceanographic parameters such as seawater temperature, salinity and sea-bathymetry are mainly available to IAEA' Member States via Internet.