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Trawling-induced alterations of deep-sea sediment accumulation rates during the Anthropocene

AuthorsPuig, Pere ; Paradis Vilar, Sarah; Masqué, Pere; Martín, Jacobo ; Juan Díaz, Xènia; Palanques, Albert
Issue Date14-Dec-2015
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
CitationAGU Fall Meeting 2015: OS13A-2026 (2015)
AbstractCommercial bottom trawling causes direct physical disturbance of the marine sedimentary environments by scraping and ploughing the seabed, generating periodic resuspension of surface sediments. However, the quantification of the sediment that is removed by trawling and exported across the continental margin remains largely unaddressed, and the preservation of the signal of such impacts in the geological record have been mostly overlooked. The analysis of sediment cores collected along the Catalan margin (NW Mediterranean) has allowed evaluating the contribution of this anthropogenic activity to the present-day sediment dynamics. Sediment cores at intensively trawled sites are characterized by over-consolidated sediments with lower 210Pb surface concentrations and inventories that indicate widespread erosion of recent sedimentary deposits. In turn, combined 210Pb and 137Cs chronologies indicate a significant increase of sediment accumulation rates within submarine canyon environments since the 1970s, coincidently with a strong impulse in the industrialization of the trawling fleets of this region. Two sampling sites that exhibited high sediment accumulation rates (0.6-0.7 cm/y) were reoccupied 1-2 decades after the first studies and revealed a second and even larger increase of sediment accumulation rates (>2 cm/y) occurring at the beginning of the XXI century. This recent change has been attributed to a preferential displacement of the trawling fleet towards fishing grounds surrounding submarine canyons and, also, to technical improvements in trawling vessels, presumably related to financial subsidies provided to the fishing sector. The alteration of sediment accumulation rates described in this continental margin may occur in many regions of the World’s oceans given the wide geographical distribution of this human activity, and therefore, it could represent a potential marker of the Anthropocene in deep-sea environments
DescriptionAmerican Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, 14-18 December 2015, San Francisco
Publisher version (URL)https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm15/webprogram/Paper73820.html
Appears in Collections:(ICM) Comunicaciones congresos
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