Project Outline

INWADE - Cold-Water Coral Mound Development Related to INtermediate WAter DEnsity Gradient


Contact: Andres Rüggeberg (, University of Fribourg, Switzerland.


Cold-water corals occur along the European continental margin and form large reefs and mound structures. Recent studies underline the environmental control on the growth and development of these reefs and mound structures. The proposed study concentrates on the new observation indicating that the density of seawater may be a prerequisite environmental control factor for the Northeast Atlantic coral reefs (Dullo et al. 2008). Another study (White and Dorschel 2010) proposed that the position and stability of the thermocline is likely the key in providing favourable conditions over long time scales allowing mounds to grow through sediment baffling processes. However, from a paleoceanographic point of view, both findings are very important and interesting and the possibility to reconstruct paleo-densities and paleo-temperatures will give us the opportunity to determine past environmental water mass characteristics related to cold-water coral growth and carbonate mound development. To do so, a compilation of existing (and new) stable isotope data from DSDP, ODP and IODP sites combined with existing (and new) data from short sediment cores will provide the basis of this study. Three depth-transects at 37°N, 51°N and 65°N cross the European continental slope down to 3000 m water depth and show good coverage of drill cores. Along these transects paleo-densities and paleo-temperatures will be calculated for important time periods during the past 3 million years and compared to the history of settlement and development of cold-water coral reefs.