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The Mediterranean-Atlantic Gateway Code - The Late Pleistocene Carbonate Mound Record

Acronym: GATEWAY

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This proposal, named "The Mediterranean-Atlantic Gateway Code", aims to combine multidisciplinary high-level research at the frontier of geosphere and biosphere interactions with active training for young ocean scientists in a true "floating university" spirit. The study areas, located on the Moroccan margin at either side of the Gibraltar gateway, lie on the crossroads of (a) cold-water coral (CWC) carbonate systems, with sequences covering the Plio-Pleistocene interval, (b) siliciclastic (contouritic) processes driven by vigorous and dynamic intermediate water masses and (c) seepage and fluid flow processes. Therefore, we aim to study two major CWC mound provinces; the Pen Duick mounds in the Gulf of Cadiz and the Melilla mounds in the Southern Alboran Sea. We postulate that they hold the key to the origin and early development of the Porcupine mound provinces and comparable cases along the European continental margins. Both on- and off-mound records will document the gateway dynamics and its influence on deep-water ecosystems. The PDE and Melilla mounds are both are mature sites in terms of site-survey preparation, documented by various types of seismic profiling, multibeam and sidescan sonar data and ROV investigations within the framework of past and present national and international projects (ESF, EC). In both cases, we envisage precise (USBL-guided) coring in order to investigate and compare their spatial and temporal variability with respect to their internal palaeoenvironmental drivers, common evolution through time and the processes leading to early diagenesis. The present proposal, focussing on two mound provinces featuring an active interplay between the key internal and external processes, is therefore a logical process-driven companion and pendant of IODP expedition 307.

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