Environmental forcing by submarine canyons: evidence between two closely situated cold-water coral mounds (Porcupine Bank Canyon and Western Porcupine Bank, NE Atlantic)

Thumbnail Image
O'Reilly, Luke
Fentimen, Robin
Butschek, Felix
Titschack, Jürgen
Lim, Aaron
Moore, Niamh
O'Connor, Owen J.
Appah, John
Harris, Kim
Vennemann, Torsten
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Within the Porcupine Bank Canyon (NE Atlantic), cold-water coral (CWC) mounds are mostly found clustered along the canyon lip, with individual disconnected mounds occurring nearby on the western Porcupine Bank. Remotely operated vehicle-mounted vibrocoring was utilized to acquire cores from both of these sites. This study is the first to employ this novel method when aiming to precisely sample two closely situated areas. Radiometric ages constrain the records from the early to mid-Holocene (9.1 to 5.6 ka BP). The cores were then subjected to 3D segmented computer tomography to capture mound formation stages. The cores were then further examined using stable isotopes and benthic foraminiferal assemblages, to constrain the paleoenvironmental variation that influenced CWC mound formation of each site. In total, mound aggradation rate in the Porcupine Bank Canyon and western Porcupine Bank was comparable to other Holocene CWC mounds situated off western Ireland. Results derived from multiproxy analysis, show that regional climatic shifts define the environmental conditions that allow positive coral mound formation. In addition, the aggradation rate of coral mounds is higher adjacent to the Porcupine Bank Canyon than on the western Porcupine Bank. Benthic foraminifera assemblages and planktic foraminiferal d13C reveal that higher quality organic matter is more readily available closer to the canyon lip. As such, we hypothesize that coral mound formation in the region is likely controlled by an interplay between enhanced shelf currents and the existence of the Eastern North Atlantic Water-Mediterranean Outflow Water-Transition Zone. The geomorphology of the canyon promotes upwelling of these water masses that are enriched in particles, including food and sediment supply. The higher availability of these particles support the development and succession of ecological hotspots along the canyon lip and adjacent areas of the seafloor. These observations provide a glimpse into the role that submarine canyons play in influencing macro and micro benthic fauna distributions and highlights the importance of their conservation.
Benthic foraminifera assemblages , Cold-water corals , Holocene , NE Atlantic , Submarine canyon
O’Reilly, L., Fentimen, R., Butschek, F., Titschack, J., Lim, A., Moore, N., O’Connor, O.J., Appah, J., Harris, K., Vennemann, T. and Wheeler, A.J. (2022) ‘Environmental forcing by submarine canyons: Evidence between two closely situated cold-water coral mounds (Porcupine Bank Canyon and Western Porcupine Bank, NE Atlantic)’, Marine Geology, 454, 106930 (27pp). doi: 10.1016/j.margeo.2022.106930.
Link to publisher’s version