High resolution temporal and spatial study of the benthic biology and geochemistry of a North-Eastern Atlantic abyssal locality
Objective: To identify, quantify and model the principal processes within the abyssal benthic boundary layer which affect the permanent sedimentary record of the incoming chemical flux.
Approach: An intensive multi-disciplinary (geochemical, biochemical, physical and biological) study of a highly seasonal abyssal locality in the NE Atlantic over one complete annual cycle.
The aims will be to:
1. Quantify and characterise the incoming vertical flux of organic and inorganic matter and its resuspension in the near-bottom layers (by sediment traps, transmissometers and midwater cameras).
2. Measure the rate of its incorporation into the sediment column and the fluxes across the sediment-water interface (by in situ landers, sediment column chemical analysis and sediment profile imaging).
3. Study the interaction between the incoming signal and the benthic biota, including bioturbation (by conventional sampling and analysis and in situ manipulation/experimentation).
4. Incorporate the resulting data into predictive models.
European dimension: Logistically, technically and intellectually, this programme could not be achieved by any single European nation alone. The results will be of value to all nations, both in relation to palaeoceanographic interpretation of the sediment record and to the possible use of the deep-sea floor as a repository for waste or as a source of raw materials.