In the past 50-60 years, major advances in seafloor and sub-seafloor surveying have provided important clues on seafloor processes of the past at large spatial and temporal scales. However, we still lack a basic understanding of active seafloor processes at fine spatial and temporal scales, and their feedback on seafloor form and evolution, for a large portion of the seafloor. Our inferences on key seafloor processes are rarely based on a mechanistic explanation. These limitations are primarily a result of the following:

  1. A reliance on the depositional record (whether in geophysical or core data), which may be incomplete due to erosion or reworking.
  2. To interpret this record, we need to link it to a process. This has generally entailed relying on scaled-down laboratory experiments and models, most of which lack field validation.
  3. There are logistical, power, and data-transfer constraints on long-term monitoring in deep and remote seafloor locations, resulting in low frequency and low resolution of measurements at point locations.

Addressing these problems in seafloor geomorphology is fundamental because they are at the nexus of multiple disciplines, and the answers derived can provide an input to predictive models (e.g. early warning systems) and allow the seafloor to be confidently used as an archive of environmental processes.

The Seafloor Process lab will address the following key scientific questions – (1) What are the characteristics of seafloor processes? (2) How do these processes interact with the seafloor? and (3) What are the key drivers and controlling factors of the processes and associated landform evolution? – using a combination of repeat surveying and in situ monitoring, supported by automated detection and classification, and advanced numerical methods. This program will start addressing some of these questions in collaboration with the Continental Margins, Seafloor Mapping and CoMPAS labs. Available technologies at MBARI will be integrated with new instruments to implement the lab’s vision.



Amblas, D., A. Micallef, S. Ceramicola, T.P. Gerber, M. Canals, D. Casalbore, F.L. Chiocci, R. Duran, P.T. Harris, V.A. Huvenne, S.Y. Lai, G. Lastras, C. Lo Iacono, F.L. Matos, J.J. Mountjoy, C.K. Paull, P. Puig, and A. Sanchez-Vidal. 2022. Submarine Canyons. Treatise on Geomorphology (Second Edition), 8: 830846.

Micallef, A., C.K. Paull, N. Saadatkhah, and O. Bialik. 2021. The role of fluid seepage in the erosion of Mesozoic carbonate escarpments. JGR Earth Surface, 126: 1–25.

Micallef, A., A. Camerlenghi, A. Georgiopoulou, D. Garcia-Castellanos, M.A. Gutscher, C. Lolacono, V.A.I. Huvenne, J. Mountjoy, C.K. Paull, T.P. Le Bas, D. Spatola, L. Facchin, and D. Accettella. 2019. Geomorphic evolution of the Malta Escarpment and implications for the Messinian evaporative drawdown in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Geomorphology, 327: 264–283.

Latest News

Sorry, no results were found.


Sorry, no results were found.


Sorry, no results were found.