Keynote: Geology Makes a Difference – Canyons, Faults, and Glaciers as Main Components in Marine Benthic Habitat Characterization

Oceanographic processes are one of many factors that control marine ecological environments. These processes are complex and on the seafloor are dependent upon circulation pathways controlled by geomorphology. However, other natural factors such as depth, nutrient sources, temperature, current strength, predator-prey relationships, refugia, recruitment areas, to mention a few, are all critical in the formation and maintenance of healthy marine benthic habitats. But the one major deterministic component of these habitats is geology. Geology and geologic processes “set-the-stage” for habitats and their ecological associations. For example, submarine canyons, gullies, and faults are features that play a major role in sourcing and transferring nutrients, providing hard and soft substrates for biological attachment and burrowing, and for concentrating the food web from plankton to the largest marine mammals. Glacial moraines, eskers, dead-ice banks and fiords also influence these processes and provide good benthic habitats. The role that canyons, faults, and glaciers play in habitat characterization will be discussed from a west coast North American (NE Pacific) perspective using Monterey Canyon, the San Juan Archipelago, and the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather transform fault system as examples. In addition, as Australia generally lacks glacial features, emphases will be placed on submarine canyons, which predominate on the shelf and slope of the continent, and the critical benthic habitats they provide will be examined in light of canyons along the west coast of North America.

Keynote Speaker

Gary Greene
Director, Tombolo