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Benthic processes

Canyon dynamics
Project Manager: Bill Ussler
Lead Scientist: Charlie Paull, Dave Caress, John Ryan
Lead Engineer: Gene Massion


The Canyon Dynamics Project is a systematic multi-year study of the physical processes that occur in the axis of Monterey Canyon. The intention is to establish how submarine canyons are excavated, to understand the role of submarine canyons as conduits for transporting materials from continents to the deep-sea, to determine the rates of these processes, and to assess the importance of submarine canyons in moving particulate carbon into the deep-sea. 

To achieve these objectives four approaches are being conducted simultaneously. The parallel approaches will allow us to collect the basic data necessary to define the processes that occur in submarine canyons. They are: (1) Deploy benthic instrument packages on the canyon floor to establish at least a three-year record of the energy conditions and to determine the potential for sediment transport and erosion along the canyon’s axis; (2) Sample of the channel floor to establish the stratigraphy and source of the most recently deposited channel floor materials; (3) Repetitively map several small sections of the channel floor at the highest resolution possible, to determine the changes that occur in topography of the channel floor; (4) Event response to sample hyperpycnal flows or other ephemeral sediment transport events within the canyon.