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Large deep-water coral banks in the Porcupine Basin, southwest of Ireland

Large deep-water coral banks in the Porcupine Basin, southwest of Ireland
Large deep-water coral banks in the Porcupine Basin, southwest of Ireland
The Porcupine Basin, southwest of Ireland, was one of the earliest sites from where the deep-water corals Lophelia sp. and Madrepora sp. were recovered. These deep-water corals have since been found all along the Atlantic margins of Europe, in water depths ranging from 50 to more than 2000 m. Recent geophysical studies have demonstrated the mound-building potential of deep-water corals. Available data indicate that three major provinces of coral bank occurrences can be identified in the Porcupine Basin: (1) high-relief surface mounds which have a dimension of 1 by 5 km and a height up to 200 m (‘Hovland’ mounds), flanked to the north by (2) a swarm of buried mounds, somewhat smaller (up to 90 m), and with more irregular shapes than those recognised in area 1 (‘Magellan’ mounds), and (3) outcropping or buried, conical mounds (single or in elongated clusters, up to 150 m high) occurring on the southeastern slope of the basin (‘Belgica’ mounds). As far as can be inferred from shallow cores, the surface lithology predominantly consists of an upper layer rich in foraminiferal sand and terrigenous silty clay with intercalations of biogenic rubble. The banks host a remarkable number of colonies of living and dead Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata. The living and dead assemblages are underlain by a significant layer of coral debris in a muddy matrix. Deep-water coral debris together with a living association of the same species covers the surface of the ‘Belgica’ and ‘Hovland’ mounds, which may suggest that these corals have played a significant role in the development of the mound structures. The capacity for mound formation by scleractinian corals in the aphotic zone has been known for some time. Examples are found at different locations along the shelves and the continental margins of the North Atlantic. The role of the corals in these deep-water build-ups is still a point of debate. Though the genesis and initial control of mound settings in this basin might be related to hydrocarbon seeps, it appears that the major development of the Porcupine coral banks in recent geological times has most likely been controlled by oceanic circulation and dynamics in water masses and nutrient supply.
coral banks, Mediterranean outflow water, deep-water corals, Porcupine Basin, NE Atlantic
0025-3227
193-231
De Mol, B.
204e77eb-a684-4445-a1bc-51b571cadd08
Van Rensbergen, P.
0a24dac5-2a61-41d9-84d2-3d661b4f985c
Pillen, S.
12e844c2-64ba-481a-8c55-59497f2cb210
Van Herreweghe, K.
ee5d67a6-e282-40ff-acd8-fa72ac9f33c5
Van Rooij, D.
022c3dc6-2eda-419a-9e7d-fa3bd226780d
McDonnell, A.
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Huvenne, V.
f22be3e2-708c-491b-b985-a438470fa053
Ivanov, M.
3074e176-56b1-42f1-987a-2c8c33046535
Swennen, R.
5afb81d1-9a2e-4851-999a-6cc4b9e6798c
Henriet, J.P.
afa4730b-bdb3-4074-9942-ff6ab3b68489
De Mol, B.
204e77eb-a684-4445-a1bc-51b571cadd08
Van Rensbergen, P.
0a24dac5-2a61-41d9-84d2-3d661b4f985c
Pillen, S.
12e844c2-64ba-481a-8c55-59497f2cb210
Van Herreweghe, K.
ee5d67a6-e282-40ff-acd8-fa72ac9f33c5
Van Rooij, D.
022c3dc6-2eda-419a-9e7d-fa3bd226780d
McDonnell, A.
a243a8b0-75a5-4407-b1c7-078d848e82ed
Huvenne, V.
f22be3e2-708c-491b-b985-a438470fa053
Ivanov, M.
3074e176-56b1-42f1-987a-2c8c33046535
Swennen, R.
5afb81d1-9a2e-4851-999a-6cc4b9e6798c
Henriet, J.P.
afa4730b-bdb3-4074-9942-ff6ab3b68489

De Mol, B., Van Rensbergen, P., Pillen, S., Van Herreweghe, K., Van Rooij, D., McDonnell, A., Huvenne, V., Ivanov, M., Swennen, R. and Henriet, J.P. (2002) Large deep-water coral banks in the Porcupine Basin, southwest of Ireland. Marine Geology, 188 (1-2), 193-231. (doi:10.1016/S0025-3227(02)00281-5).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Porcupine Basin, southwest of Ireland, was one of the earliest sites from where the deep-water corals Lophelia sp. and Madrepora sp. were recovered. These deep-water corals have since been found all along the Atlantic margins of Europe, in water depths ranging from 50 to more than 2000 m. Recent geophysical studies have demonstrated the mound-building potential of deep-water corals. Available data indicate that three major provinces of coral bank occurrences can be identified in the Porcupine Basin: (1) high-relief surface mounds which have a dimension of 1 by 5 km and a height up to 200 m (‘Hovland’ mounds), flanked to the north by (2) a swarm of buried mounds, somewhat smaller (up to 90 m), and with more irregular shapes than those recognised in area 1 (‘Magellan’ mounds), and (3) outcropping or buried, conical mounds (single or in elongated clusters, up to 150 m high) occurring on the southeastern slope of the basin (‘Belgica’ mounds). As far as can be inferred from shallow cores, the surface lithology predominantly consists of an upper layer rich in foraminiferal sand and terrigenous silty clay with intercalations of biogenic rubble. The banks host a remarkable number of colonies of living and dead Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata. The living and dead assemblages are underlain by a significant layer of coral debris in a muddy matrix. Deep-water coral debris together with a living association of the same species covers the surface of the ‘Belgica’ and ‘Hovland’ mounds, which may suggest that these corals have played a significant role in the development of the mound structures. The capacity for mound formation by scleractinian corals in the aphotic zone has been known for some time. Examples are found at different locations along the shelves and the continental margins of the North Atlantic. The role of the corals in these deep-water build-ups is still a point of debate. Though the genesis and initial control of mound settings in this basin might be related to hydrocarbon seeps, it appears that the major development of the Porcupine coral banks in recent geological times has most likely been controlled by oceanic circulation and dynamics in water masses and nutrient supply.

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More information

Published date: 15 August 2002
Keywords: coral banks, Mediterranean outflow water, deep-water corals, Porcupine Basin, NE Atlantic

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 41823
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/41823
ISSN: 0025-3227
PURE UUID: 038c5697-103a-4c67-9abd-856c64983da7
ORCID for V. Huvenne: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7135-6360

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 05 Oct 2006
Last modified: 03 Dec 2019 01:48

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Contributors

Author: B. De Mol
Author: P. Van Rensbergen
Author: S. Pillen
Author: K. Van Herreweghe
Author: D. Van Rooij
Author: A. McDonnell
Author: V. Huvenne ORCID iD
Author: M. Ivanov
Author: R. Swennen
Author: J.P. Henriet

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