Phaeton - Paleoceanographic and paleo-climatic record on the Mauritanian Shelf - Cruise No. MSM16/3 - October 13 - November 20, 2010 - Bremerhaven (Germany) - Mindelo (Cap Verde) (English)

  • ISSN:
  • Report  /  Electronic Resource

How to get this document?

Free access

The sedimentary system on the shelf and continental slope off Mauritania is of scientific interest for a range of reasons. First, it is one of the rare modern occurrences of eutrophic large-scale tropical ecosystems. Nutrient-rich upwelling waters warm up in the shallows of the Golfe d'Arguin and are further fertilized by the influx of Saharan dust. Second, as an effect of the bathymetry of the Golfe d'Arguin, extremely high-resolution sedimentary archives of terrigenous input (eolian and fluviatile) can be interpreted as records of Holocene climatic change. Third, the continental margin off Maurtania is marked by the southernmost known deepwater coral reefs in the eastern North Atlantic. The shelf of Mauritania is climatically and oceanographically exceptionally sensitive and offers the opportunity to put a variety of environmental parameters into a chronologic and causal context. The expedition Maria S. Merian 16-3 aimed at a comprehensive understanding of the complex sedimentary system off Mauritania as an atypical tropical ecosystem and an archive of paleoclimatic change in Africa in the Holocene. The expedition was very successful and exceeded the goals formulated in the original proposal. During the expedition, the chain of Mauritanian coral reef mounds was mapped the first time and in great detail, revealing a complex and not yet understood large-scale pattern. The zodiac excursions on the shallow Banc d'Arguin in water depth of as little as 2 m led to successful sampling of the carbonate-producing organisms, filling an important gap in the understanding of this eutrophic ecosystem. Acoustic profiling with the zodiac revealed a complex Holocene flooding history of the shallow parts of the Golfe d'Arguin.