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.

CCE Data Report

The Coordinated Canyon Experiment (CCE) is an extensive long-term effort to monitor turbidity currents in situ and at multiple locations simultaneously. Here you can find all the data and relevant metadata collected throughout this groundbreaking study.



Upper-ocean systems
Acoustical ocean ecology
Acoustic instruments
Acoustic fingerprinting
Acoustic community ecology
Acoustics in the news
Biological oceanography
Global modes of sea surface temperature
Krill hotspots in the California Current
Nitrate supply estimates in upwelling systems
Chemical sensors
Chemical data
Land/Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory in Elkhorn Slough
Listing of floats
SOCCOM float visualization
Periodic table of elements in the ocean
Biogeochemical-Argo Report
Profiling float
Interdisciplinary field experiments
Ecogenomic Sensing
Genomic sensors
Field experiments
Harmful algal blooms (HABs)
Water quality
Environmental Sample Processor (ESP)
ESP Web Portal
In the news
Ocean observing system
Midwater research
Midwater ecology
Deep-sea squids and octopuses
Food web dynamics
Midwater time series
Respiration studies
Zooplankton biodiversity
Seafloor processes
Revealing the secrets of Sur Ridge
Exploring Sur Ridge’s coral gardens
Life at Sur Ridge
Mapping Sur Ridge
Biology and ecology
Effects of humans
Ocean acidification, warming, deoxygenation
Lost shipping container study
Effects of upwelling
Faunal patterns
Previous research
Technology development
High-CO2 / low-pH ocean
Benthic respirometer system
Climate change in extreme environments
Station M: A long-term observatory on the abyssal seafloor
Station M long-term time series
Monitoring instrumentation suite
Sargasso Sea research
Antarctic research
Geological changes
Arctic Shelf Edge
Continental Margins and Canyon Dynamics
Coordinated Canyon Experiment
CCE instruments
CCE repeat mapping data
Monterey Canyon: A Grand Canyon beneath the waves
Submarine volcanoes
Mid-ocean ridges
Magmatic processes
Volcanic processes
Explosive eruptions
Hydrothermal systems
Back arc spreading ridges
Near-ridge seamounts
Continental margin seamounts
Non-hot-spot linear chains
Eclectic seamounts topics
Margin processes
Hydrates and seeps
California borderland
Hot spot research
Hot-spot plumes
Magmatic processes
Volcanic processes
Explosive eruptions
Volcanic hazards
Hydrothermal systems
Flexural arch
Coral reefs
ReefGrow software
Eclectic topics
Submarine volcanism cruises
Volcanoes resources
Areas of study
Bioluminescence: Living light in the deep sea
Microscopic biology research
Open ocean biology research
Seafloor biology research
Automated chemical sensors
Methane in the seafloor
Volcanoes and seamounts
Hydrothermal vents
Methane in the seafloor
Submarine canyons
Earthquakes and landslides
Ocean acidification
Physical oceanography and climate change
Ocean circulation and algal blooms
Ocean cycles and climate change
Past research
Molecular ecology
Molecular systematics
SIMZ Project
Bone-eating worms
Gene flow and dispersal
Molecular-ecology expeditions
Ocean chemistry of greenhouse gases
Emerging science of a high CO2/low pH ocean
Paull, C.K., Dallimore, S.R., Jin, Y.K., Caress, D.W., Lundsten, E., Gwiazda, R., Anderson, K., Clarke, J.H., Youngblut, C., Melling, H., (2022). Rapid seafloor changes associated with the degradation of Arctic submarine permafrost. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119: 1-8.
Gwiazda, R., Paull, C.K., Kieft, B., Klimov, D., Herlien, R., Lundsten, E., McCann, M., Cartigny, M.J., Hamilton, A., Xu, J., Maier, K.L., Parsons, D.R., Talling, P.J., (2022). Near-bed structure of sediment gravity flows measured by motion-sensing “boulder-like” Benthic Event Detectors (BEDs) in Monterey Canyon. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 127: 1-22.
Micallef, A., Paull, C.K., Saadatkhah, N., Bialik, O., (2021). The role of fluid seepage in the erosion of Mesozoic carbonate escarpments. JGR Earth Surface, 126: 1-25.
Kang, S.-E., Jin, Y.K., Jang, U., Duchesne, M.J., Shin, C., Kim, S., Riedel, M., Dallimore, S.R., Paull, C.K., Choi,Y., Hong, J.K., (2021). Imaging the P-wave velocity structure of Arctic subsea permafrost using Laplace-domain full-waveform inversion. JGR Earth Surface, 126: 1-15.
Lee, D.-H., Kim, J.-H., Lee, Y.M., Kim, J.-H., Jin, Y.K., Paull, C., Ryu, J.-S., Shin, K.-H., (2021). Geochemical and microbial signatures of siboglinid tubeworm habitats at an active mud volcano in the Canadian Beaufort Sea. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8: 1-16.