Unconventional carbonate factories in the Eastern Mediterranean: cold water coral ecosystems and seeps

The project deals with unconventional and still poorly known carbonate factories: cold water corals and seeps, which are some of the most enigmatic phenomena of oceanic basins and slope environments being their internally and externally driven processes that control their relationships not completely understood. The Eastern Mediterranean Sea offers a variety of recently discovered seafloor seeps, carbonate buildups and deep-sea coral related phenomena relatively densely distributed in time and space. In particular, recent oceanographic cruises have revealed the presence of seeps, fossils and living CWCs along the Israeli coasts in the Palmahim Disturbance Zone (PD) influenced by the Nile River discharge. The project aims to investigate the PD as a natural laboratories by carrying out for the first time the comparative investigation of deep-sea corals, seep systems and methane-derived authigenic carbonates. The project lead by the Universities of Fribourg and Haifa (Israel) benefits of the support of Greek and Cypriot scientists and addresess the key question if there exist any causal link between cold-water coral ecosystems and cold seeps in the Eastern Mediterranean or if it has been in the recent geological past.

Image courtesy of ROV Max Rover - SEMSEEP Cruise 2016