An uncrewed ocean mapping vehicle has discovered a seamount taller than the Burj Khalifa. Credit: Saildrone / Wikimedia Commons

A seamount taller than any skyscraper

Although the ocean covers around 71% of the Earth's surface and is the largest ecosystem on the planet, it is still largely unknown to humans. Several missions are underway to unlock its secrets One of them has found something remarkable: an underwater mountain taller than any skyscraper.



Only 5% of the ocean has been explored and mapped by humans, according to UNESCOAn autonomous ocean mapping vehicle has identified a previously unidentified seamount that is larger than the tallest building on Earth. These geological formations could serve as a reference point for different habitats and the search for previously unknown life. What is known about this mysterious mountain, taller than the Burj Khalifa?


A giant mountain hidden under the sea


The vehicle in question is called the Saildrone Surveyor, and it has spent several months surveying Alaska's Aleutian Islands and areas off the coast of California. In total, it has surveyed more than 45,000 square kilometres of ocean floor, even in 35-knot winds and waves of more than five metres. These conditions would have been "too challenging for most crewed survey vessels," according to Saildrone.

One of the most striking findings is a previously unknown seamount off the coast of California that is around 1,000 metres high. This underwater mountain is therefore taller than the world's tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. At over 828 metres tall and 160 storeys, the structure holds several world records. As well as being the tallest building on the planet, it has the world's highest open-air observation deck and the elevator with the longest travel distance in the world.



The Saildrone Surveyor is the world´s largest uncrewed ocean mapping vehicle. Credit: Saildrone


An unexplored seafloor


"Identifying such seamounts improves our understanding of the physical processes of the ocean and identifies areas needing further exploration as unique habitats," says Saildrone. The US Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which extends from the coast to 200 nautical miles from the shore, is one of the largest in the world, but much of it remains unmapped, unobserved and unexplored. "In terms of area, Alaska is by far the least mapped region of the US EEZ," says Saildrone.

Aurora Elmore, Cooperative Institute Manager at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ocean Exploration, says that every American, in one way or the other, depends on the ocean: "From protein from fish to feed animals or humans, to deep-sea cables that make the Internet possible. The only way the US can maximise our ocean resources is to understand what's there," she says.

During the mission, the Surveyor also carried technology from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) to collect environmental DNA. "Outfitted with the Environmental Sample Processor, a groundbreaking "lab in a can," the Surveyor was able to collect important clues about marine biodiversity and ocean health from the genetic "fingerprints" left behind by marine life," says Saildrone. But no specific details are offered.


The Surveyor aims to unlock the deepest secrets of the ocean. Credit: Saildrone.


Unique ecosystems on the ocean floor


The Saildrone Surveyor mission is funded by NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. It is the first step in mapping the seafloor of key regions in Aleutian waters at high resolution. Elmore says the advantage of the Surveyor "is getting that initial exploration step done faster, cheaper, and without as much staff."

But Saildrone is not the only project of its kind. The crew of the Schmidt Ocean Institute's research vessel Falkor (too) is also trying to unravel the mystery of the ocean floor, and has discovered several giant seamounts. "A map is a fundamental tool for understanding our planeta”locating seamounts almost always leads us to understudied biodiversity hotspots," says Jyotika Virmani, Executive Director of Schmidt Ocean Institute. "Each time we find these bustling seafloor communities, we make incredible new discoveries and advance our knowledge of life on Earth," she says.



Seamounts can host biodiversity hotspots. Credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute.


Many details about the seamounts are still unknown. But their discovery raises many questions: from how they were formed, to what kind of marine life lives on them, how they impact ocean currents, and even whether they could be a source of mineral resources. As Jamie McMichael-Phillips, project director of Seabed 2030, points out, "with 75% of the ocean still to be mapped, there is so much to be uncovered. Ocean mapping is crucial to our understanding of the planet and, in turn, our ability to ensure its protection and sustainable management."

Tungsteno is a journalism laboratory to scan the essence of innovation.

  • Transport infrastructures

Ferrocarril Central: All aboard the train to the future

The Ferrocarril Central de Uruguay railroad network is renewing the section that links the interior of the country to Montevideo port.

Ferrocarril Central



The Ferrocarril Central de Uruguay renovates the route that connects the country's interior with the port of Montevideo along a total of 273 km of railway (including branches). The new infrastructure will have a positive impact on the growth of agricultural, forestry, and industrial production in Uruguay.

The Ferrocarril Central railroad will define a new era in Uruguay’s rail transport. This project, promoted by the Ministry of Transport and Civil Engineering, will repair and renew 273 km of railroad that links the city of Paso de los Toros with Montevideo port. 

The project represents an evolution in freight and passenger transport in Uruguay, which will be faster, safer, and more economical. 

The Grupo Via Central (GVC) consortium, led by Sacyr, also involving Uruguayan firms Saceem and Berkes, and the French firm NGE, is responsible for financing, designing, build, operation and maintenance of the railroad.

The railroad engineering works are creating around 3.100 jobs (direct and indirect) and impacts more than 2,800 people linked to commerce and services. Furthermore, the new infrastructure will have a positive impact on the growth of farming, forestry, and industrial production.

For the construction of the Central Railway, technologies such as welded rails and noise and vibration protections have been employed.

The railway will reduce travel time by 50% and increase the trains' load capacity from 18 tons to 22 tons per axis.









jobs created

direct and indirect

We adapted the unique bridge over the Santa Lucia River 

The execution of this project included the adaptation of the railway bridge over the Santa Lucia River. This is a unique infrastructure due to its 600 meters in length of extension and for the steel of which it is built since it requires a series of characteristics to acquire a special color.

The adaptation of this bridge involved the installation of five 53-meter spans; three 26-meter spans and 17 15-meter spans, totaling nearly 600 meters.

In total, the assembly and installation work required the transfer of 1,585 tons of metal structure, which entailed more than 65,000 working hours and the involvement of 72 professionals.



  • Railway infrastructures
  • Concessions
  • Uruguay

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iFRIDAY (January 2023)

All about Twitch: Innovation and Entertainment

Discover how Twitch has revolutionised content consumption on the Internet with its innovative formula.

iFRIDAY (February 2023)

Research in the key of women

This session delves into the presence and contributions of women within the research field.

iFRIDAY (March 2023)

Innovation as a driver of transformation

We talk about how innovation is transforming this sector and learn more about Ford's innovation model.

iFRIDAY (April 2023)

Clean Cities with an Innovative Approach

We talk about how innovation is transforming waste collection and cleaning services in cities, moving towards a more sustainable and committed model.

iFRIDAY (May 2023)

Innovation applied to law

We talk about how innovation is changing more traditional sectors such as law and the legal profession.

iFRIDAY (September 2023)

Brushstrokes of innovation in art: from paintings to NFTs

In this session, we learn how the way paint is made and consumed has been transformed by new technologies.

iFRIDAY (October 2023)

Innovation and Inclusion: A More Accessible Future

We talk about how Innovation improves the autonomy and quality of life of people with disabilities.

iFRIDAY (November 2023)

AI in spanish: When innovation speaks your language

In this session we discover the importance of language when training Artificial Intelligence models.

iFRIDAY (January 2024)

Advertising with an accent on innovation

We learned how marketing and advertising has evolved thanks to the use of AI, generating a significant impact on the way brands connect with their audiences.

iFRIDAY (February 2024)

Women, entrepreneurship and innovation: The road ahead.

We talk about the role of women in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship and how the creation of women's networks helps to drive that innovation.

iFRIDAY (March 2024)

Circular economy at the center of innovation.

We learned about new models of waste recovery from CIEC in order to maximize the available resources so that they remain as long as possible in the production cycle.

  • Infrastructures

Ruta 78, greater safety and comfort from San Antonio to Santiago

This 133-km highway is a strategic corridor in Chile. Millions of people will benefit from the rehabilitation of this infrastructure.

Ruta 78 in Chile

Sacyr Concesiones started managing the Ruta 79 in March 2022, running from San Antonio to Santiago.

Sacyr will invest US$ 900 billion in the upcoming years with the goal of expanding and modernizing it. This project will benefit a 1.7 million people living in the surrounding areas and use this important route every year.

These investments will help improve several highway sections, expand roundabouts, build new branch roads to the ports, replace the Manuel Rodríguez bridge and develop new connections.

Sacyr Concesiones will manage this infrastructure for the next three decades.




million US$





Meet the Ruta 78 team (Chile)

Meet a team of professionals that is firmly committed to providing safety and comfort for the users that travel this road daily.

Video Sacyr. Meet the human team behind Ruta 78 (Chile)

  • Highway
  • Investment
  • P3 Projects

We brought into operationa a new Pamplona – Cucuta section (Colombia)

This project, that improves connections in Norte de Santander, is at over 87% progress.

We have brought a 7.2-km divided highway section into operation between the Colombian municipalities of Pamplonita and Pamplona corresponding to Functional Unit 2 of the Pamplona-Cúcuta P3 project.

Functional Unit 2 is a section with a 60 km/h design speed, that will save users up to 10 minutes in their commutes between Pamplonita and Pamplona

“This road is faster, safer and more comfortable, and includes all the technical specifications of a world-scale project. We continue to work to deliver the most important road infrastructure project in Norte de Santander”, explained Francisco Javier Álvarez García, General Manager of Unión Vial Río Pamplonita.

Three bridges were built in this section, one of them is in the Los Adioses sector (a Pamplona municipality) with a geometrical curved design. This 170-m bridge crosses over Pamplonita River.



Unión Vial Río Pamplonita, a 100% Sacyr company, is in charge of the definitive studies and designs, financing, environmental, property and community relations management, construction, improvement, rehabilitation, operation and maintenance and mitigation works on this road, led by the Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura (ANI)

The project is at over 87% progress and its development will bring progress and wellbeing in Norte de Santander by improving the connections between the northwestern Colombian border with the inland.


  • Colombia
Featured projects
  • P3 Projects

Hospital cognitivo

The Cognitive Hospital project aims to develop an intelligent platform based on innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), advanced algorithms, BIM, Big Data, etc.

Its development and implementation will optimize the processes of design, construction, operation, and maintenance, improve energy efficiency and air quality of hospital assets, as well as reduce the environmental footprint associated with the infrastructure both during construction and operation phases.

This project represents a new milestone in public-private collaboration, a cornerstone of Sacyr's business model, as it maximizes the value proposition to the client and goes beyond mere contractual requirements by bringing together the best internal and external talent.

It is co-financed by the local Operational Program of the Community of Madrid European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the 2021-2027 period.

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Hospitals
  • P3 Projects

Battery recycling

The Baterurgia project, "research on advanced recycling technologies for obtaining strategic metals from electric vehicle batteries,"

Aims to address the challenges posed by the recycling of lithium-ion batteries and provide solutions to the problems arising from the recovery and selective separation of critical metals they contain (lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese).
The main objective of the project is to facilitate their use in the manufacture of new batteries or to replace conventional raw materials in other industrial production sectors, as a more sustainable alternative.

  • Batteries
  • Vehicle mobility
  • Integral Water Cycle

Life Hyreward

This project, funded by the European LIFE program, aims to increase the sustainability of the desalination process.

Its purpose is to explore the generation of renewable electrical energy from the brine resulting from desalination, with the goal of improving the energy efficiency of the process.

It involves evaluating a new, more sustainable desalination process that combines reverse osmosis with reverse electrodialysis. Integrating this process with conventional technology improves energy efficiency by recovering electrical energy from the brine obtained prior to its discharge into the sea, thereby reducing CO2 emissions.

  • Sustainability
  • Water
  • Desalination
  • Spain
  • Sacyr Conservación


This Sacyr Maintenance-led project consists of designing an autonomous system for handling traffic cones on roads to carry out lane cutting operations without human intervention.

The ultimate goal is to develop a device with industrial robotic technology and precise positioning for, on one hand, proper lane signaling and, on the other hand, automated cone placement/removal, ensuring total safety during the operation. Additionally, this project transforms safety standards on our roads and helps to avoid the presence of vulnerable users, a major priority within Sacyr.

Project funded by the Center for Technological Development and Innovation (CDTI), a Public Business Entity under the Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities.

  • Roads
  • Seguridad vial
  • Sacyr

Natural capital valuation

At Sacyr, the protection of the natural environment is a priority in all projects.

The biggest environmental challenges we face today is the loss of biodiversity and natural habitats as a consequence of unsustainable growth. It is crucial to find transformation possibilities that allow progress and improvement of collective well-being, while simultaneously regenerating natural resources, increasing climate resilience, and restoring ecological systems.

The main objective of this project is to understand the impact of our works on the environment. Thanks to this platform, we will be able to optimize compensation measures based on the impacts caused, something that was previously done in a very manual way. All of this will enable us to achieve a net debt with nature in an automatic, scalable, and efficient manner.

  • Environment
  • Environmental impact
  • P3 Projects

Predictive Company

Through this pilot project on energy efficiency, implemented at the Moncloa Transport Hub in Madrid, artificial intelligence is used to connect internal building data with other external variables, thereby creating its digital twin.

This enables precise prediction of its energy needs for autonomous and optimized operation of HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems.

Among the main objectives of the project is to develop a solution capable of automatically executing recommendations in the HVAC control system. This requires a connection that allows sending commands from remote equipment to the controller.

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Energy efficiency
  • Automation
  • P3 Projects

Sustainable energy production

This project aims to install ultra-thin and organic photovoltaic modules.

The pilot has been developed on the suitable rooftops of the Moncloa Transport Hub in Madrid, managed by Sacyr, where 96 photovoltaic modules for self-consumption have been installed, with less than 10g of CO2 per kWh. Thanks to this technology, Sacyr is able to utilize the available suitable spaces of the Interchange with the latest technological advancements in green electricity generation, in order to evaluate their possible application in other infrastructures and make them self-sufficient.

  • Sustainability
  • Solar Energy
  • Sacyr Conservación

InRoad Evolution

This project aims to continuously evaluate the main indicators of road conditions that can impact user safety, using equipment with advanced sensors and artificial intelligence models.

Through this project, 11 monitoring units are implemented and deployed along the approximately 5,500 km of roads maintained by Sacyr Maintenance. Among them, more than 2,250 km belong to routes of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T Network).

Inroad Evolution is financed under the "Program to Support Sustainable and Digital Transport," related to safety in road operation and maintenance (NextGen Funds) by the Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility.

  • Roads
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Seguridad vial
  • Sacyr

Center for Innovation for the Circular Economy

Sacyr manages a portion of the activities of the Center for Innovation for the Circular Economy in Madrid, whose creation has been promoted by the City Council.

The main objective of the Center for Innovation for the Circular Economy (CIEC, in Spanish) is to create a reference ecosystem of companies in innovation and experimentation of solutions according to the principles of the circular economy.

This project positions Sacyr as a key partner of the Madrid City Council in the field of the circular economy. Furthermore, it strengthens our commitment to sustainability and innovation, attracts talent, and places Sacyr within the ecosystem of companies.

Sacyr designs and coordinates the digital manufacturing laboratory, Fablab. It is a laboratory that promotes creativity through digital manufacturing tools. Fablabs help entrepreneurs prototype their ideas. In this case, it incorporates the circular economy into its basic principles and allows entrepreneurs and their prototypes to connect with the CIEC ecosystem of companies and their involvement in the economic development of Madrid.

  • Circular economy
  • economic development

Attendance to the Sustainability and Corporate Governance Commission meetings

Meetings held in 2023 4
Mrs. María Jesús de Jaén Beltrá (Chair) 100%
Mrs. Elena Jiménez de Andrade Astorqui 100%
Grupo Corporativo Fuertes, S.L. (Mr. Tomás Fuertes Fernández) 100%
Mr. Luís Javier Cortés Domínguez 100%
Mrs. Adriana Hoyos Vega 100%

Attendance to the Board of Directors meetings

Meetings held in 2023 9
Mr. Manuel Manrique Cecilia (Chairman) 100%
Mr. Demetrio Carceller Arce (Vice-chairman) 100%
Mrs. Elena Jiménez de Andrade Astorqui (Lead Independent Director) 100%
Mr. José Manuel Loureda Mantiñan 100%
Grupo Corporativo Fuertes, S.L. (Mr. Tomás Fuertes Fernández) 100%
Mr. Javier Adroher Biosca 100%
Mr. Juan María Aguirre Gonzalo 100%
Mr. Augusto Delkader Teig 100%
Mrs. María Jesús de Jaén Beltrá 100%
Mr. Luís Javier Cortés Domínguez 100%
Mr. José Joaquín Güell Ampuero 100%
Mr. Raimundo Baroja Rieu 100%
Mrs. Maria Elena Monreal Alfageme 100%
Mrs. Adriana Hoyos Vega 100%

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