The overall objective of the project is an interdisciplinary investigation of fluid and water seepage along selected areas of the European continental margin in the context of dissolved mass and water transport, slope sediment stability, methane utilization, benthic material turnover, and faunal adaptation. To achieve this, the following approach will be taken:
1) survey and map the surface manifestations and shallow subsurface characteristics of active seeps and define their respective geologic settings;
2) delineate gas hydrate (clathrate) deposits where present and assess the effect of the decomposition of clathrate on slope sediment stability;
3) directly measure water and gas flow from active seeps;
4) determine the role of material fluxes from seeps in geochemical cycling, benthic production, and sediment transport; and
5) investigate the adaptations of the benthic fauna to seep environments.
The study areas are: a known gas seep site in the Skagerrak; the slope at either side of the Faeroe-Shetland Channel; the Porcupine Seabight; and the Barents Sea shelf.
The proposed multi-disciplinary approach will focus on:
1) comparing the physical and geotechnical properties of sediments at the seep sites with those from the surrounding area and assessing the relevance of these factors for the presence of submarine mud slides;
2) quantifying the fluid and geochemical mass fluxes using an in situ device deployed from a surface vessel via a lander system;
3) measuring the rates of sulphate reduction, methane oxidation, and methanogenesis at different horizons in sediment cores from seep and non-seep sites;
4) comparing the species composition, density, and distribution of benthic fauna at seep sites with those in the surrounding sediments unaffected by seepage;
5) examining the structural and ecological adaptations of organisms living in seep areas with reference to the physical and chemical environment of the seeps; and
6) determining the role of symbiotic chemoautolithotrophic and methylotrophic bacteria in benthic production at seep and non-seep sites.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
71003 Poros Irakleiou Kritis
PL1 2PB Plymouth
NG12 5GG Keyworth