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Cold-water coral mounds on the Pen Duick Escarpment, Gulf of Cadiz: The MiCROSYSTEMS project approach
Van Rooij, D.; Blamart, D.; De Mol, L.; Mienis, F.; Pirlet, H.; Wehrmann, L. M.; Barbieri, R.; Maignien, L.; Templer, S. P.; de Haas, H.; Hebbeln, D.; Frank, N.; Larmagnat, S.; Stadnitskaia, A.; Stivaletta, N.; van Weering, T.; Zhang, Y.; Hamoumi, N.; Cnudde, V.; Duyck, P.; Henriet, J.-P.; The MiCROSYSTEMS MD 169 Shipboard Party (2011). Cold-water coral mounds on the Pen Duick Escarpment, Gulf of Cadiz: The MiCROSYSTEMS project approach. Mar. Geol. 282(1-2): 102-117.
In: Marine Geology. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISSN 0025-3227, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

    Bottom currents; Cold water; Corals; Diagenesis; Microhabitats; ANE, Cadiz Gulf [Marine Regions]; Marine
Author keywords
    cold-water corals; Gulf of Cadiz; early diagenesis; Sulphate Methane Transition Zone; micro-habitat; bottom currents

Authors  Top 
  • Van Rooij, D., more
  • Blamart, D.
  • De Mol, L., more
  • Mienis, F., more
  • Pirlet, H., more
  • Wehrmann, L. M.
  • Barbieri, R.
  • Maignien, L., more
  • Templer, S. P.
  • de Haas, H., more
  • Hebbeln, D., more
  • Frank, N.
  • Larmagnat, S.
  • Stadnitskaia, A., more
  • Stivaletta, N.
  • van Weering, T., more
  • Zhang, Y., more
  • Hamoumi, N.
  • Cnudde, V., more
  • Duyck, P.
  • Henriet, J.-P., more
  • The MiCROSYSTEMS MD 169 Shipboard Party

    Here we present a case study of three cold-water coral mounds in a juvenile growth stage on top of the Pen Duick Escarpment in the Gulf of Cadiz; Alpha, Beta and Gamma mounds. Although cold-water corals are a common feature on the adjacent cliffs, mud volcanoes and open slope, no actual living cold-water coral has been observed. This multidisciplinary and integrated study comprises geophysical, sedimentological and (bio)geochemical data and aims to present a holistic view on the interaction of both environmental and geological drivers in cold-water coral mound development in the Gulf of Cadiz. Coring data evidences (past or present) methane seepage near the Pen Duick Escarpment. Several sources and pathways are proposed, among which a stratigraphic migration through uplifted Miocene series underneath the escarpment. The dominant morphology of the escarpment has influenced the local hydrodynamics within the course of the Pliocene, as documented by the emplacement of a sediment drift. Predominantly during post-Middle Pleistocene glacial episodes, favourable conditions were present for mound growth. An additional advantage for mound formation near the top of Pen Duick Escarpment is presented by seepage-related carbonate crusts which might have offered a suitable substrate for coral settling. The spatially and temporally variable character and burial stage of the observed open reef frameworks, formed by cold-water coral rubble, provides a possible model for the transition from cold-water coral reef patches towards juvenile mound. These rubble “graveyards” not only act as sediment trap but also as micro-habitat for a wide range of organisms. The presence of a fluctuating Sulphate–Methane Transition Zone has an important effect on early diagenetic processes, affecting both geochemical and physical characteristics, transforming the buried reef into a solid mound. Nevertheless, the responsible seepage fluxes seem to be locally variable. As such, the origin and evolution of the cold-water coral mounds on top of the Pen Duick Escarpment is, probably more than any other NE Atlantic cold-water coral mound province, located on the crossroads of environmental (hydrodynamic) and geological (seepage) pathways.

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