Istituto di Scienze Marine     
Pusceddu A., Bianchelli S., Canals M., Sanchez-Vidal A., Durrieu De Madron X., Heussner S., Lykousis V., De Stigter H., Trincardi F., Danovaro R. Organic matter in sediments of canyons and open slopes of the Portuguese, Catalan, Southern Adriatic and Cretan Sea margins. In: Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers, vol. 57 (3) pp. 441 - 457. PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, THE BOULEVARD, LANGFORD LANE, KIDLINGTON, OXFORD OX5 1GB, ENGLAND, 2010.
We describe the quantitative and compositional (phytopigment, protein, carbohydrate and lipid)patterns of sedimentary organic matter along bathymetric gradients in seven submarine canyons and adjacent open slopes located at four European regions: one along the NE Atlantic and three along the Mediterranean continental margins. The investigated areas are distributed along a putative longitudinal gradient of decreasing primary production from the Portuguese (northeastern Atlantic Ocean), to the Catalan (western Mediterranean Sea), Southern Adriatic (central Mediterranean Sea) and Southern Cretan (eastern Mediterranean Sea) margins. Sediment concentrations of organic matter differed significantly between the Portuguese margin and the Mediterranean regions and also from one study area to the other within the Mediterranean Sea. Differences in quantity and composition of sediment organic matter between canyons and open slopes were limited and significant only in the eutrophic Portuguese margin, where the differences were as large as those observed between regions (i.e. at the mesoscale). These results suggest that the overall trophic status of deep margin sediments is controlled mostly by the primary productivity of the overlying waters rather than by the local topography. Moreover, we also report that the quantity and nutritional quality of sediment organic matter in canyons and adjacent open slopes do not show any consistent depth-related pattern. Only the NazareŽ and Cascais canyons in the Portuguese margin, at depths deeper than 500 m, displayed a significant accumulation of labile organic matter. The results of our study underline the need of further investigations of deep margins through sampling strategies accounting for adequate temporal and spatial scales of variability.
DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr.2009.11.008
Subject Submarine canyons
Open slopes
Sediment organic matter
Trophic conditions
Mediterranean Sea
Atlantic Ocean

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