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Seafloor microplastic hotspots controlled by deep-sea circulation

Seafloor microplastic hotspots controlled by deep-sea circulation
Seafloor microplastic hotspots controlled by deep-sea circulation
While microplastics are known to pervade the global seafloor, the processes that control their dispersal and concentration in the deep sea remain largely unknown. Here we show that thermohaline-driven currents, which build extensive seafloor sediment accumulations, can control the distribution of microplastics and create hotspots of up to 1.9 million pieces m−2. This is the highest reported value for any seafloor setting, globally. Previous studies propose that microplastics are transported to the seafloor by vertical settling from surface accumulations; here we demonstrate that the spatial distribution and ultimate fate of microplastics is strongly controlled by near-bed thermohaline currents (bottom currents). These currents are known to supply oxygen and nutrients to deep sea benthos, suggesting that deep sea biodiversity hotspots are also likely to be microplastic hotspots.
0036-8075
1140-1145
Kane, Ian A.
dfdc39db-59b8-4b08-85e4-9d6d3a9cd41e
Clare, Michael A.
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Miramontes, Elda
46306494-7ab5-42c9-beda-f89fb7d19a65
Wogelius, Roy
1996a44f-6aa1-4bd0-9ecb-5a80d3c6e90e
Rothwell, James J.
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Garreau, Pierre
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Pohl, Florian
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Kane, Ian A.
dfdc39db-59b8-4b08-85e4-9d6d3a9cd41e
Clare, Michael A.
b26da858-9c08-4784-aaa9-7092efcd94bd
Miramontes, Elda
46306494-7ab5-42c9-beda-f89fb7d19a65
Wogelius, Roy
1996a44f-6aa1-4bd0-9ecb-5a80d3c6e90e
Rothwell, James J.
63a7bc9c-74dd-4d3a-b80d-d8a8e19a20a8
Garreau, Pierre
544e5a5a-d2e5-4f94-a0b5-947cd35ce3f1
Pohl, Florian
7aebe37d-d7a0-4a95-8090-1806aa7e13b6

Kane, Ian A., Clare, Michael A., Miramontes, Elda, Wogelius, Roy, Rothwell, James J., Garreau, Pierre and Pohl, Florian (2020) Seafloor microplastic hotspots controlled by deep-sea circulation. Science, 368 (6495), 1140-1145, [eaba5899]. (doi:10.1126/science.aba5899).

Record type: Article

Abstract

While microplastics are known to pervade the global seafloor, the processes that control their dispersal and concentration in the deep sea remain largely unknown. Here we show that thermohaline-driven currents, which build extensive seafloor sediment accumulations, can control the distribution of microplastics and create hotspots of up to 1.9 million pieces m−2. This is the highest reported value for any seafloor setting, globally. Previous studies propose that microplastics are transported to the seafloor by vertical settling from surface accumulations; here we demonstrate that the spatial distribution and ultimate fate of microplastics is strongly controlled by near-bed thermohaline currents (bottom currents). These currents are known to supply oxygen and nutrients to deep sea benthos, suggesting that deep sea biodiversity hotspots are also likely to be microplastic hotspots.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 9 April 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 30 April 2020
Published date: 5 June 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 441788
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/441788
ISSN: 0036-8075
PURE UUID: ccb105a1-ba39-41d0-b83e-9d1ae257686a

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Date deposited: 26 Jun 2020 16:45
Last modified: 27 Apr 2022 10:25

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Contributors

Author: Ian A. Kane
Author: Michael A. Clare
Author: Elda Miramontes
Author: Roy Wogelius
Author: James J. Rothwell
Author: Pierre Garreau
Author: Florian Pohl

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