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Southampton, United Kingdom

Thatje S.,UK National Oceanography Center
Integrative and Comparative Biology | Year: 2012

The likelihood of marine invertebrates to maintain large geographic ranges is widely dependent on the ability of their early ontogenetic stages to disperse over long distances. Marine benthic invertebrates inhabiting the cold-stenothermal environment of the Southern Ocean are known for their overall reduced number of pelagic larvae, or drifting stages of any kind, when compared with organisms elsewhere in the sea. The diversity of organisms thriving in Antarctic waters is the result of evolution in situ and of the intrusion of species from surrounding seas. The reasons for a high level of endemism and a stunning diversity of benthic invertebrates found today are frequently discussed in the literature, but the mechanisms whereby diversity has been controlled over time remain largely theoretical. Here, I suggest that, indeed, early life-history patterns play a key role in defining the radiation and the speciation potential of Antarctic benthic invertebrates. In arguing this case, I synthesize the growing body of molecular studies on population connectivity in Antarctic benthic invertebrates, and compare this information with knowledge of their life histories and biogeography. I conclude that differences in early life-history patterns are key to the resilience potential of species in response to late Cenozoic glacial periods and propose that there is a direct relationship between rate of speciation and the ability of taxa to disperse. © 2012 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. All rights reserved.

Hybrid flows comprising both turbidity current and submarine debris flow are a significant departure from many previous influential models for submarine sediment density flows. Hybrid beds containing cohesive debrite and turbiditeare common in distal depositional environments, as shown by detailed observations from more than 20 modern and ancient systems worldwide.Hybrid flows, and cohesive debris flows more generally, are best classified in terms of a continuum of decreasing cohesive debris flow strength. High-strength cohesive debris flows tend to be clast rich and relatively thick, and their deposit extends back to near the siteof original slope failure. They are typically confined to higher gradient continental slopes, but may occasionally form megabeds on basin plains, in both cases overlain by a thin turbidite. Intermediate-strength cohesive debris flows typically contain clasts, but their deposits may be <1 or 2 m thick onlow-gradient fan fringes, and are encased in turbidite sand and mud. Clasts may be fartraveled, and meter-sized clasts can be rafted long distances across very low gradients if they are less dense than surrounding flow. Low-strength cohesive debris flows generally lack mud clasts, and as cohesive strength decreases further there is a transition into fluidmud layers that do not support sand. Intermediate- and low-strength cohesive debrites are consistently absent in more proximal parts of submarine systems, where faster moving sediment-charged flows are more likely to be turbulent. Intermediatestrength debris flows can run out for long distances on low gradients without hydroplaning. Very low strength cohesive debris flows most likely form through late-stage transformations near the site of debrite deposition, and emplaced gently to avoid mixing with surrounding seawater. The location and geometry of cohesive debrites in hybrid beds are controlled strongly by seafloor morphology and small changes in gradient. Debrites occur as fringes around raised channel-lev e ridges, or in the central and lowest parts of basin plains lacking such ridges. Small variations in mud fraction produce profound changes in cohesive strength, flow viscosity, permeability, and the time taken for excess pore pressuresto dissipate that span multiple orders of magnitude. Reduction in flow speed can also cause substantial increases in viscosity and yield strength in shear thinning muddy fluids. Small amounts of sedimnt can dampen or extinguish turbulence, especially as flow decelerates, affecting how sediment is supported or deposited. This ensures that cohesive debris flows and hybrid flows have a rich variety of behaviors. © 2013 Geological Society of America.

Talling P.J.,UK National Oceanography Center
Marine Geology | Year: 2014

Turbidity currents, and other types of underwater sediment density flow, are arguably the most important flow process for moving sediment across our planet. Direct monitoring provides the most reliable information on the varied ways in which these flows are triggered, and thus forms the basis for this contribution. Recent advances in flow monitoring make this contribution timely, although monitoring is biased towards more frequent flow types. Submarine deltas fed by bedload dominated rivers can be very active with tens of events each year. Larger events are generated by delta-lip failures, whilst smaller events can be associated with motion of up-slope migrating bedforms. River-fed submarine canyons are flushed every few years by powerful long run-out flows. Flows in river-fed delta and canyon systems tend to occur during months of elevated river discharge. However, many flows do not coincide with flood peaks, or occur where rivers do not reach hyperpycnal concentrations, and are most likely triggered by failure of rapidly deposited sediment. Plunging of hyperpycnal river floodwater commonly triggers dilute and slow moving flows in lakes and reservoirs, and has been shown to produce mm-thick fine-grained deposits. It is proposed here that such thin and fine deposits are typical of flows triggered by hyperpycnal river floods, rather than thicker sand layers with traction structure or displaying inverse-to-normal grading. Oceanographic canyons are detached from river mouths and fed by oceanographic processes (wave and tide resuspension, longshore drift, etc.). Most events in these canyons are associated with large wave heights. Up-slope migrating crescentic bedforms are seen, similar to those observed in river-fed deltas. Oceanographic processes tend to infill canyons, which are flushed episodically by much more powerful flows, inferred to result from slope failure. This filling and flushing model is less applicable to river-fed canyons in which flushing events are much more frequent. Oceanographic canyons may result from rapid sea level rise that detaches river mouths from canyon heads, and they can remain active during sea level highstands. Deep-water basin plains are often dominated by infrequent but very large flows triggered by failure of the continental slope. Recurrence intervals of these flows appear almost random, and only weakly (if at all) correlated with sea level change. Turbidites can potentially provide a valuable long-term record of major earthquakes, but widespread slope failure is the only reliable criteria for inferring seismic triggering. However, not all major earthquakes trigger widespread slope failure, so that the record is incomplete in some locations. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Statham P.J.,UK National Oceanography Center
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2012

The fate and cycling of macronutrients introduced into estuaries depend upon a range of interlinked processes. Hydrodynamics and morphology in combination with freshwater inflow control the freshwater flushing time, and the timescale for biogeochemical processes to operate that include microbial activity, particle-dissolved phase interactions, and benthic exchanges. In some systems atmospheric inputs and exchanges with coastal waters can also be important. Climate change will affect nutrient inputs and behaviour through modifications to temperature, wind patterns, the hydrological cycle, and sea level rise. Resulting impacts include: 1) inundation of freshwater systems 2) changes in stratification, flushing times and phytoplankton productivity 3) increased coastal storm activity 4) changes in species and ecosystem function. A combination of continuing high inputs of nutrients through human activity and climate change is anticipated to lead to enhanced eutrophication in the future. The most obvious impacts of increasing global temperature will be in sub-arctic systems where permafrost zones will be reduced in combination with enhanced inputs from glacial systems.Improved process understanding in several key areas including cycling of organic N and P, benthic exchanges, resuspension, impact of bio-irrigation, particle interactions, submarine groundwater discharges, and rates and magnitude of bacterially-driven recycling processes, is needed. Development of high frequency in situ nutrient analysis systems will provide data to improve predictive models that need to incorporate a wider variety of key factors, although the complexity of estuarine systems makes such modelling a challenge. However, overall a more holistic approach is needed to effectively understand, predict and manage the impact of macronutrients on estuaries. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

Benn A.R.,UK National Oceanography Center
PloS one | Year: 2010

Environmental impacts of human activities on the deep seafloor are of increasing concern. While activities within waters shallower than 200 m have been the focus of previous assessments of anthropogenic impacts, no study has quantified the extent of individual activities or determined the relative severity of each type of impact in the deep sea. The OSPAR maritime area of the North East Atlantic was chosen for the study because it is considered to be one of the most heavily impacted by human activities. In addition, it was assumed data would be accessible and comprehensive. Using the available data we map and estimate the spatial extent of five major human activities in the North East Atlantic that impact the deep seafloor: submarine communication cables, marine scientific research, oil and gas industry, bottom trawling and the historical dumping of radioactive waste, munitions and chemical weapons. It was not possible to map military activities. The extent of each activity has been quantified for a single year, 2005. Human activities on the deep seafloor of the OSPAR area of the North Atlantic are significant but their footprints vary. Some activities have an immediate impact after which seafloor communities could re-establish, while others can continue to make an impact for many years and the impact could extend far beyond the physical disturbance. The spatial extent of waste disposal, telecommunication cables, the hydrocarbon industry and marine research activities is relatively small. The extent of bottom trawling is very significant and, even on the lowest possible estimates, is an order of magnitude greater than the total extent of all the other activities. To meet future ecosystem-based management and governance objectives for the deep sea significant improvements are required in data collection and availability as well as a greater awareness of the relative impact of each human activity.

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