Geochemical and biological recovery of the disturbed seafloor in polymetallic nodule fields of the Clipperton-Clarion Fracture Zone (CCFZ) at 5,000-m depth

Khripounoff, Alexis, Jean-Claude Caprais, Philippe Crassous, Joël Etoubleau

Limnol. Oceanogr., 51(5), 2006, 2033-2041 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2006.51.5.2033

ABSTRACT: Environmental data were obtained on the nodule fields of the Clipperton-Clarion Fracture Zone at 5,000-m depth in June 2004 during the Nodinaut cruise. The long-term effects of physical disturbance made by a dredge 26 yr ago on the sediment were investigated. We focused our study on its track, which is still visible on the bottom. The first major consequence of the passage of this equipment was to remove 4 cm 6 0.5 cm of superficial sediment. The physical and chemical properties of this disturbed sediment sampled in the track did not change significantly over time and has not shown any recovery since the disturbance. However, an exception was observed for depth variations of manganese concentration in the sediment, which were similar in the track to those in the surrounding undisturbed sediment and can be explained by the diffusion over time of oxygen from the sea water. On the other hand, the biological activity measured in the track with the respirometer RAP2 carried by the submersible Nautile did not differ from the unperturbed site, which suggests that the benthic fauna has completely recovered, as have nutrient fluxes at the water-sediment interface.

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