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TitleArctic Ocean seafloor geomorphic features and benthic habitats - relevance for conservation and marine spatial planning
DownloadDownload (whole publication)
LicencePlease note the adoption of the Open Government Licence - Canada supersedes any previous licences.
AuthorHarris, P T; Macmillan-Lawler, M
SourceProgram and abstracts: 2017 GeoHab Conference, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada; by Todd, B JORCID logo; Brown, C J; Lacharité, M; Gazzola, V; McCormack, E; Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 8295, 2017 p. 55, Open Access logo Open Access
LinksGeoHab 2017
PublisherNatural Resources Canada
Meeting2017 GeoHab: Marine Geological and Biological Habitat Mapping; Dartmouth, NS; CA; May 1-4, 2017
Documentopen file
Mediaon-line; digital
RelatedThis publication is contained in Program and abstracts: 2017 GeoHab Conference, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
File formatpdf
ProvinceNorthern offshore region
NTS16; 19; 26; 27; 28; 29; 36; 37; 38; 39; 46; 47; 48; 49; 56; 57; 58; 59; 66; 67; 68; 69; 76; 77; 78; 79; 86; 87; 88; 89; 97; 98; 99; 107; 117; 120; 340; 560
AreaArctic Ocean
Lat/Long WENS-180.0000 180.0000 90.0000 64.0000
Subjectsmarine geology; surficial geology/geomorphology; environmental geology; Nature and Environment; mapping techniques; oceanography; marine environments; coastal studies; conservation; marine organisms; marine ecology; resource management; biological communities; environmental studies; ecosystems; benthos; continental margins; continental shelf; continental slope; seafloor topography; submarine plateaus; mid-ocean ridges; marine sediments; glaciomarine deposits; glacial landforms; planning; biogeography; glaciation; climate; Pleistocene; Biology; Climate change; Phanerozoic; Cenozoic; Quaternary
Illustrationssketch maps
ProgramOffshore Geoscience
Released2017 09 26
AbstractThe Arctic Ocean is geomorphically unique among ocean basins for its large percentage areas of continental shelf (51.8%), plateau (9.2%), spreading ridges (4.8%), shelf valleys (14.0%), submarine canyons (16.1%), and terraces (24.6%), all of which are greater in area proportionately compared with the earth's other ocean basins. It also is distinguished by its proportionately small areas of abyssal plains, escarpments and seamounts as well as the absence of any hadal zones or deep ocean trenches (Fig. 1). These observations are relevant to the distribution of benthic species and Arctic biogeography, because seafloor geomorphic features are surrogates for benthic habitats, at the relevant (broad) spatial scale.
Two categories of geomorphic feature can, in particular, be attributed to Pleistocene glaciation and the attendant export of sediment to the ocean basin: glacial troughs and submarine canyons. Glacial troughs characterize 24% of the Arctic shelf, second only to Antarctica where 40% of shelf area is glacial trough. Arctic submarine canyons are twice the size of those in non-polar regions. Canyons in the Arctic have an average size of 890 square kilometres compared to the overall (global) average size of 463 square kilometres. Canyons comprise an average of 11.2% of the continental slope area, attaining maxima of 16.1% of the continental slope of the Arctic Ocean. The larger size and greater fractional slope-area of Arctic canyons is attributed to glacial export of sediments into the Arctic Ocean during Pleistocene ice ages.
Conservation measures in the Arctic include the declaration of marine protected areas (MPAs) that are located mainly along the coasts and continental shelf areas of Arctic countries. This MPA configuration results in a lack of protection for categories of deep sea features such as submarine canyons, seamounts and spreading ridges, and the unique benthic ecosystems that inhabit them. As anthropogenic climate change causes a gradual decline in sea ice cover, previously inaccessible benthic habitats may become vulnerable, for the first time, to human exploitation (i.e. fisheries and oil and gas industries).
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
The sixteenth annual GeoHab Conference was held this year (2017) at the Waterfront Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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