Geological Changes Group

Charles K. Paull, Principal Investigator

Submarine canyons are considered to be a major conduit for sediment transport from the continent into the deep sea. However, little is known about the transport processes that occur within canyons and the rate in which sediments are transported down canyons. The canyon processes group at MBARI is interested in determining processes by which submarine canyons are excavated. We have begun to systematically characterize the sedimentary materials that move along the floor of the canyon system from their continental source to their final destination on the abyssal plane of the Pacific Ocean.

As part of MBARI’s initiative to develop ocean observatories, efforts are underway at MBARI to systematically study the ongoing dynamics in the axis of Monterey Canyon. Under the direction of Charlie Paull we have begun to study the canyon using multiple techniques that provide data similar to the data that are used to understand the dynamic processes in terrestrial river channels. These techniques include: monitoring the physical conditions within the channel by placing moorings on the channel floor, conducting detailed sampling of the channel floor using vibracoring systems deployed from our ROVs, repeat multi-beam mapping of sections of the canyon floor to monitor the changes in the canyons bed that occur in response to physical events, and conducting event response cruises to characterize active sediment transport events.

The canyon processes group is currently working on these major activities:

  • Continental Margins and Canyon Dynamics
  • Canadian Arctic Expedition
  • The Coordinated Canyon Experiment (CCE)

Arctic shelf edge

MBARI has participated in three research cruises in the Canadian Beaufort Sea, using an inspection class ROV) to visualize the seafloor and collect samples.

Continental Margins and Canyon Dynamics

We are studying the Monterey Canyon using multiple techniques that provide data similar to what is used to understand dynamic processes in terrestrial river channels.

Coordinated Canyon Experiment

The Coordinated Canyon Experiment (CCE), promises to give scientists a uniquely detailed and comprehensive view of sediment movement within the canyon



Upper-ocean systems
Biological oceanography
Biological oceanography research
Publication—Global modes of sea surface temperature
Chemical sensors
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Land/Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory in Elkhorn Slough
Listing of floats
SOCCOM float visualization
Periodic table of elements in the ocean
Biogeochemical-Argo Report
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Molecular ecology
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Continental Margins and Canyon Dynamics
Coordinated Canyon Experiment
Monterey Canyon: Stunning deep-sea topography revealed
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