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The Dangeard and Explorer canyons, South Western Approaches UK: geology, sedimentology and newly discovered cold-water coral mini-mounds

Stewart, Heather A.; Davies, Jaime S.; Guinan, Janine; Howell, Kerry L.. 2014 The Dangeard and Explorer canyons, South Western Approaches UK: geology, sedimentology and newly discovered cold-water coral mini-mounds. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 104. 230-244. 10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.08.018

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Abstract/Summary

The Celtic Margin is a complex area in terms of sedimentary dynamics and evolution, with a number of submarine canyons dissecting the continental slope and outer continental shelf. The complex terrain and diverse range of sea-bed sediments play a part in submarine canyons being described as areas of high habitat heterogeneity. This study has concentrated on the heads of two canyons: Dangeard (also known as Dangaard) and Explorer (first named here) located in UK territorial waters, in water depths between 138 and 1165 m. Multibeam echosounder, 2D reflection seismic and photographic ground-truthing data have been combined to map the sea-bed geomorphology, sedimentary features and canyon megafauna of these canyons. In addition, two previously unknown provinces of cold-water coral (CWC) mini-mounds were discovered on the interfluves of the Dangeard and Explorer canyons. The study area comprises a dendritic network of gullies feeding into the canyon thalwegs. Amphitheatre rims, where slope angles are commonly in excess of 20°, occur along the margins and heads of both canyons and are interpreted as drainage basins indicative of retrogressive mass-wasting in a shelfward direction. The CWC mini-mounds occur in water depths between 250 m and 410 m, with more than 400 mounds identified. They are up to 3 m in height and 50–150 m in diameter with no sub-surface expression, suggesting these mounds are, in geological terms, relatively young and possibly Holocene in age. Biological analyses revealed that the mounds form a habitat for ophiuroids and Munida associated with Lophelia pertusa coral rubble, suggesting these mini-mounds are not present-day living features.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.08.018
ISSN: 09670645
Date made live: 10 Jul 2014 09:23 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/507792

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