Cold-water corals in the Bay of Biscay - occurrences and distribution in space and time (TransBiscay) - Cruise No. M84/5 - May 31 - June 21, 2011 - Vigo (Spain) Brest (France) (Englisch)

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The scientific objectives of METEOR cruise M84/5 focused on the measurement and analysis of the environmental controls of modern and fossil cold-water coral growth along a transect in the Bay of Biscay. In four working areas we successfully deployed lander systems and CTD/Ros to document the physical and hydrochemical characteristics of bottom water masses and the water column in general. These are used to shed light on potential linkages to modern cold-water coral growth and distribution. These investigations were flanked by plankton tows in surface waters. The base for all investigations was a thorough hydroacoustic survey to characterize potential cold-water coral bearing areas with living colonies. Based on these maps we deployed all video-guided gear such as the OFOS-video sled, the TV grab, and the lander systems. Benthic assemblages and sedimentary structures have been documented and sampled with the OFOS and a box corer. Simultaneously, genetic samples of the living coral material were taken for additional studies. Furthermore, we have taken gravity cores to investigate the paleoceanographic conditions as well as the timing of cold-water coral colonization in the Bay of Biscay. Along with the coring efforts, a detailed sampling and study of porewater properties was performed. An additional aim of this cruise was to investigate the influence of boundary exchange processes on the Neodymium isotopy in bottom waters along the pathway of the Mediterranean Outflow water (MOW) by taking multiple samples with the CTD/Ro. The new data and samples of this METEOR cruise will provide the framework to investigate the timing of cold-water coral colonization in the Bay of Biscay, as well as its interplay with the ambient hydrography and geochemistry. This successful cruise has provided the basis to investigate the scientific aims of this expedition in great detail.