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RV Maria S. Merian MSM36


Climate driven development of Moroccan cold-water coral mounds revealed by MeBo-drilling:

Atlantic vs. Mediterranean settings


  • 18. February - 17. March 2014
  • Malaga - Las Palmas
  • Gulf of Cádiz & Alboran Sea


Cold-water corals (CWC) being the engineers of one of the most important ecosystems of the bathyal zone, are widely distributed along the Moroccan Atlantic margin (MAM) and along the Moroccan Mediterranean margin (MMM). At both sites of the Strait of Gibraltar they have build numerous coral mounds with heights of 20-90 m. Expedition MSM36 with RV MARIA S. MERIAN aims to drill these coral mounds with the Bremen Sea Floor Drill Rig MeBo down to their base to gain detailed insight into the initiation and early development of the Moroccan coral mounds, which is essentially unknown so far. Regarding the temporal development of coral mounds at both sites of the Strait of Gibraltar a kind of "seesaw" pattern has been observed for the last glacial-interglacial cycle. Whereas along the MAM, mound aggradation was most pronounced during the last glacial and terminated with the onset of the Holocene, along the MMM CWC only started to form mounds at the end of the last glacial. Records from both sites will test whether the observed Gibraltar seesaw pattern is a consistent feature that was also persistent further back in time. Such knowledge will contribute to a better assessment of the ultimate climatic link driving the forcing factors that control the occurrence of CWC and the long-term development of coral mounds.

Preliminary Results

During the MoccoMeBo cruise we did in total 11 successful MeBo drillings and, supplemented by gravity cores, we will bring home a sedimentary record of more than half a kilometer in length!!

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