ÉLEMO project


The éLEMO project’s main objective was to explore the depths of the Leman lake to have a better understanding of its behaviour and also to protect it from the impact of human activities. The campaign was coordinated by the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in association, on the French side, with the Institut National de Recherche Agronomique (INRA) and the University of Savoie.

During the 2011 field campaign, two MIR submarines of Russian conception dove in three zones: the deltas of the Rhône and the Dranse, as well as the Lausanne Bay in Ouchy.  “It is a quite large project to go ahead with for a better understanding of the lake dynamics“, explained Ulrich Lemmin, scientist.

The field of investigation were multidisciplinary, ranging from biology, physics, to chemistry and geology. The program aimed at understanding the impacts of human activities, in particular that of the lake-shore residents, average 1.5mio then, on the lacustrian ecosystem. “We will try to focus on what we know best: micropolluants. Today, we know where these micropollutants come from and that is how the three diving zones were defined. Now, we wish to observe how the micropollutants diffuse into the lake” continued U. Lemmin.

Scientists also were aiming to study how and in which quantities the lake swallows and rejects carbon dioxide (CO2), greenhouse effect gas; since its rate of absorption, or saturation, enables to gauge the lake’s capacity to swallow – or not – pollution coming from human activities.

At the presentation of the program to the press early June 2011, Philippe Gillet, EPFL’s Vice-President for Academic Affairs (2010-2014) said It was a great opportunity for scientists and all those who look for answers on evolution. The two submarines filled with technology allowed to gather lots of useful information and samples, that are still dealt with today. That campaign was made possible by Ferring’s 3 mio. sponsorship.

ECOL lab was in charge of the sub-project on “Modeling of physical and biochemical processes in Lake Léman: measurements and validation” that developed in collaboration with the SNF ProDoc Léman 21 project (RM1 et RM2).