Pelagic sediment

Pelagic sediment or pelagite is a fine-grained sediment that accumulates as the result of the settling of particles to the floor of the open ocean, far from land. These particles consist primarily of either the microscopic, calcareous or siliceous shells of phytoplankton or zooplankton; clay-size siliciclastic sediment; or some mixture of these. Trace amounts of meteoric dust and variable amounts of volcanic ash also occur within pelagic sediments. Based upon the composition of the ooze, there are three main types of pelagic sediments: siliceous oozes, calcareous oozes, and red clays.[1][2]

The composition of pelagic sediments is controlled by three main factors. The first factor is the distance from major landmasses, which affects their dilution by terrigenous, or land-derived, sediment. The second factor is water depth, which affects the preservation of both siliceous and calcareous biogenic particles as they settle to the ocean bottom. The final factor is ocean fertility, which controls the amount of biogenic particles produced in surface waters.[1][2]

Oozes

In case of marine sediments, ooze does not refer to a sediment's consistency, but to its composition, which directly reflects its origin. Ooze is pelagic sediment that consists of at least 30% of microscopic remains of either calcareous or siliceous planktonic debris organisms. The remainder typically consists almost entirely of clay minerals. As a result, the grain size of oozes is often bimodal with a well-defined biogenic silt- to sand-size fraction and siliciclastic clay-size fraction. Oozes can be defined by and classified according to the predominate organism that compose them. For example, there are diatom, coccolith, foraminifera, globigerina, pteropod, and radiolarian oozes. Oozes are also classified and named according to their mineralogy, i.e. calcareous or siliceous oozes. Whatever their composition, all oozes accumulate extremely slowly, at no more than a few centimeters per millennium.[2][3]

Calcareous ooze is ooze that is composed of at least 30% of the calcareous microscopic shells—also known as tests—of foraminifera, coccolithophores, and pteropods. This is the most common pelagic sediment by area, covering 48% of the world ocean's floor. This type of ooze accumulates on the ocean floor at depths above the carbonate compensation depth. It accumulates more rapidly than any other pelagic sediment type, with a rate that varies from 0.3–5 cm/1000 yr.[1][2]

Siliceous ooze is ooze that is composed of at least 30% of the siliceous microscopic "shells" of plankton, such as diatoms and radiolaria. Siliceous oozes often contain lesser proportions of either sponge spicules, silicoflagellates or both. This type of ooze accumulates on the ocean floor at depths below the carbonate compensation depth. Its distribution is also limited to areas with high biological productivity, such as the polar oceans, and upwelling zones near the equator. The least common type of sediment, it covers only 15% of the ocean floor. It accumulates at a slower rate than calcareous ooze: 0.2–1 cm/1000 yr.[1][2]

Red and brown clays

Red clay, also known as either brown clay or pelagic clay, accumulates in the deepest and most remote areas of the ocean. It covers 38% of the ocean floor and accumulates more slowly than any other sediment type, at only 0.1–0.5 cm/1000 yr.[1] Containing less than 30% biogenic material, it consists of sediment that remains after the dissolution of both calcareous and siliceous biogenic particles while they settled through the water column. These sediments consist of aeolian quartz, clay minerals, volcanic ash, subordinate residue of siliceous microfossils, and authigenic minerals such as zeolites, limonite and manganese oxides. The bulk of red clay consists of eolian dust. Accessory constituents found in red clay include meteorite dust, fish bones and teeth, whale ear bones, and manganese micro-nodules.[2]

These pelagic sediments are typically bright red to chocolate brown in color. The color results from coatings of iron and manganese oxide on the sediment particles. In the absence of organic carbon, iron and manganese remain in their oxidized states and these clays remain brown after burial. When more deeply buried, brown clay may change into red clay due to the conversion of iron-hydroxides to hematite.[2]

These sediments accumulate on the ocean floor within areas characterized by little planktonic production. The clays which comprise them were transported into the deep ocean in suspension, either in the air over the oceans or in surface waters. Both wind and ocean currents transported these sediments in suspension thousands of kilometers from their terrestrial source. As they were transported, the finer clays may have stayed in suspension for a hundred years or more within the water column before they settled to the ocean bottom. The settling of this clay-size sediment occurred primarily by the formation of clay aggregates by flocculation and by their incorporation into fecal pellets by pelagic organisms.[2]

Distribution and average thickness of marine sediments

Marine sediment thickness
Total sediment thickness of the ocean floor, with the thinnest deposits in dark blue and the thickest in red. Note the abundant deposits along the east and gulf coasts of North America, in the South China Sea, and in the Bay of Bengal, east of India
Region Percent of ocean area Percent of total volume of marine sediments Average thickness
Continental shelves 9% 15% 2.5 km (1.6 mi)
Continental slopes 6% 41% 9 km (5.6 mi)
Continental rises 6% 31% 8 km (5 mi)
Deep-ocean floor 78% 13% 0.6 km (0.4 mi)

Classification of marine sediments by source of particles

Sediment type Source Examples Distribution Percent of all ocean floor area covered
Terrigenous Erosion of land, volcanic eruptions, blown dust Quartz sand, clays, estuarine mud Dominant on continental margins, abyssal plains, polar ocean floors ~45%
Biogenous Organic; accumulation of hard parts of some marine organisms Calcareous and siliceous oozes Dominant on deep-ocean floor (siliceous ooze below about 5 km) ~55%
Hydrogenous (authigenic) Precipitation of dissolved mineral from water, often by bacteria Manganese nodules, phosphorite deposits Present with other, more dominant sediments 1%
Cosmogenous Dust from space, meteorite debris Tektite spheres, glassy nodules Mixed in very small proportion with more dominant sediments 1%

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b c d e Rothwell, R.G., (2005) Deep Ocean Pelagic Oozes, Vol. 5. of Selley, Richard C., L. Robin McCocks, and Ian R. Plimer, Encyclopedia of Geology, Oxford: Elsevier Limited. ISBN 0-12-636380-3
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h HüNeke, H., and T. Mulder (2011) Deep-Sea Sediments. Developments in Sedimentology, vol. 63. Elsiever, New York. 849 pp. ISBN 978-0-444-53000-4
  3. ^ Neuendorf, K.K.E., J.P. Mehl, Jr., and J.A. Jackson, J.A., eds. (2005) Glossary of Geology (5th ed.). Alexandria, Virginia, American Geological Institute. 779 pp. ISBN 0-922152-76-4

External links

Allison Guyot

Allison Guyot (formerly known as Navoceano Guyot) is a tablemount (guyot) in the underwater Mid-Pacific Mountains of the Pacific Ocean. It is a trapezoidal flat mountain rising 1,500 metres above the seafloor to a depth of less than 1,500 m, with a summit platform 35 by 70 kilometres wide. The Mid-Pacific Mountains lie west of Hawaii and northeast of the Marshall Islands, but at the time of their formation were located in the Southern Hemisphere.

The tablemount was probably formed by a hotspot in the present-day Southern Pacific before plate tectonics moved it to its current location. Several hotspots, including the Easter, Marquesas and Society hotspots, may have been involved in the formation of the Mid-Pacific Mountains. Volcanic activity is dated to have occurred circa 111–85 million years ago and formed a volcanic island. Subsequently, carbonate deposition commenced as Allison Guyot subsided and eventually buried the island, forming an atoll-like structure and a carbonate platform. Among other animals, crocodilians lived on Allison Guyot.

The platform emerged above sea level during the Albian and Turonian ages. It drowned about 99 ± 2 million years ago for unknown reasons; possibly a phase of renewed emergence damaged the reefs, or it was located in unfavourable waters. Later, pelagic sedimentation commenced on the seamount and led to the deposition of sediments including limestone, ooze and sand, which bear traces of climatic events and ocean currents.

Bahama Banks

The Bahama Banks are the submerged carbonate platforms that make up much of the Bahama Archipelago. The term is usually applied in referring to either the Great Bahama Bank around Andros Island, or the Little Bahama Bank of Grand Bahama Island and Great Abaco, which are the largest of the platforms, and the Cay Sal Bank north of Cuba. The islands of these banks are politically part of the Bahamas. Other banks are the three banks of the Turks and Caicos Islands, namely the Caicos Bank of the Caicos Islands, the bank of the Turks Islands, and wholly submerged Mouchoir Bank. Further southeast are the equally wholly submerged Silver Bank and Navidad Bank north of the Dominican Republic.

Brown clay (disambiguation)

Brown clay or Brown Clay may refer to:

Brown clay

Another name of pelagic clay, is a type of pelagic sediment

James Brown Clay, American politician

Umber

Carbonate platform

A carbonate platform is a sedimentary body which possesses topographic relief, and is composed of autochthonic calcareous deposits. Platform growth is mediated by sessile organisms whose skeletons build up the reef or by organisms (usually microbes) which induce carbonate precipitation through their metabolism. Therefore, carbonate platforms can not grow up everywhere: they are not present in places where limiting factors to the life of reef-building organisms exist. Such limiting factors are, among others: light, water temperature, transparency and pH-Value. For example, carbonate sedimentation along the Atlantic South American coasts takes place everywhere but at the mouth of the Amazon River, because of the intense turbidity of the water there. Spectacular examples of present-day carbonate platforms are the Bahama Banks under which the platform is roughly 8 km thick, the Yucatan Peninsula which is up to 2 km thick, the Florida platform, the platform on which the Great Barrier Reef is growing, and the Maldive atolls. All these carbonate platforms and their associated reefs are confined to tropical latitudes. Today's reefs are built mainly by scleractinian corals, but in the distant past other organisms, like archaeocyatha (during the Cambrian) or extinct cnidaria (tabulata and rugosa) were important reef builders.

Grenada Basin

The Grenada Basin is an 11–15 km thick back-arc sedimentary basin located in the southeastern region of the Caribbean Sea. It is bordered by the Lesser Antilles in the north, south, and east, and the Aves Ridge in the west.

Hemipelagic sediment

Hemipelagic sediment, or hemipelagite, is a type of marine sediment that consists of clay and silt-sized grains that are terrigenous and some biogenic material derived from the landmass nearest the deposits or from organisms living in the water. Hemipelagic sediments are deposited on continental shelves and continental rises, and differ from pelagic sediment compositionally. Pelagic sediment is composed of primarily biogenic material from organisms living in the water column or on the seafloor and contains little to no terrigenous material. Terrigenous material includes minerals from the lithosphere like feldspar or quartz. Volcanism on land, wind blown sediments as well as particulates discharged from rivers can contribute to Hemipelagic deposits. These deposits can be used to qualify climatic changes and identify changes in sediment provenances.

List of submarine volcanoes

A list of active and extinct submarine volcanoes and seamounts located under the world's oceans. There are estimated to be 40,000 to 55,000 seamounts in the global oceans. Almost all are not well-mapped and many may not have been identified at all. Most are unnamed and unexplored. This list is therefore confined to seamounts that are notable enough to have been named and/or explored.

Lo-En

Lo-En or Hess is an Albian–Campanian guyot in the Marshall Islands. One among a number of seamounts in the Pacific Ocean, it was probably formed by a hotspot in what is present-day French Polynesia. Lo-En lies southeast of Eniwetok which rises above sea level, and Lo-En is almost connected to it through a ridge.

The seamount is formed by basaltic rocks that probably formed a shield volcano first. It is believed that a number of hotspots such as the Macdonald hotspot, the Rarotonga hotspot and the Rurutu hotspot may have been involved in the formation of Lo-En. After volcanic activity, by the Turonian the seamount was submerged although it is possible that a carbonate platform formed during the Albian. After a hiatus, sedimentation commenced on the seamount in Oligocene time and led to the deposition of manganese crusts and pelagic sediments including limestone, some of which were later modified by phosphate.

Manganese nodule

Polymetallic nodules, also called manganese nodules, are rock concretions on the sea bottom formed of concentric layers of iron and manganese hydroxides around a core. As nodules can be found in vast quantities, and contain valuable metals, deposits have been identified as having economic interest.

Nodules vary in size from tiny particles visible only under a microscope to large pellets more than 20 centimetres (8 in) across. However, most nodules are between 3 and 10 cm (1 and 4 in) in diameter, about the size of hen's eggs or potatoes. Their surface textures vary from smooth to rough. They frequently have botryoidal (mammilated or knobby) texture and vary from spherical in shape to typically oblate, sometimes prolate, or are otherwise irregular. The bottom surface, buried in sediment, is generally rougher than the top due to a different type of growth.

Marine life

Marine life, or sea life or ocean life, is the plants, animals and other organisms that live in the salt water of the sea or ocean, or the brackish water of coastal estuaries. At a fundamental level, marine life affects the nature of the planet. Marine organisms produce oxygen and sequester carbon. Shorelines are in part shaped and protected by marine life, and some marine organisms even help create new land. The term marine comes from the Latin mare, meaning sea or ocean.

Most life forms evolved initially in marine habitats. By volume, oceans provide about 90 percent of the living space on the planet. The earliest vertebrates appeared in the form of fish, which live exclusively in water. Some of these evolved into amphibians which spend portions of their lives in water and portions on land. Other fish evolved into land mammals and subsequently returned to the ocean as seals, dolphins or whales. Plant forms such as kelp and algae grow in the water and are the basis for some underwater ecosystems. Plankton forms the general foundation of the ocean food chain, particularly the phytoplankton which are key primary producers.

Marine invertebrates exhibit a wide range of modifications to survive in poorly oxygenated waters, including breathing tubes as in mollusc siphons. Fish have gills instead of lungs, although some species of fish, such as the lungfish, have both. Marine mammals, such as dolphins, whales, otters, and seals need to surface periodically to breathe air.

A total of 230,000 documented marine species exist with some two million marine species yet to be documented. Marine species range in size from the microscopic, including phytoplankton which can be as small as 0.02 micrometres, to huge cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), including the blue whale – the largest known animal reaching 33 metres (108 ft) in length. Marine microorganisms, including protists, bacteria and viruses, constitute about 70% of the total marine biomass.

Oceanic plateau

An oceanic or submarine plateau is a large, relatively flat elevation that is higher than the surrounding relief with one or more relatively steep sides.There are 184 oceanic plateaus covering an area of 18,486,600 km2 (7,137,700 sq mi), or about 5.11% of the oceans. The South Pacific region around Australia and New Zealand contains the greatest number of oceanic plateaus (see map).

Oceanic plateaus produced by large igneous provinces are often associated with hotspots, mantle plumes, and volcanic islands — such as Iceland, Hawaii, Cape Verde, and Kerguelen. The three largest plateaus, the Caribbean, Ontong Java, and Mid-Pacific Mountains, are located on thermal swells. Other oceanic plateaus, however, are made of rifted continental crust, for example Falkland Plateau, Lord Howe Rise, and parts of Kerguelen, Seychelles, and Arctic ridges.

Plateaus formed by large igneous provinces were formed by the equivalent of continental flood basalts such as the Deccan Traps in India and the Snake River Plain in the United States.

In contrast to continental flood basalts, most igneous oceanic plateaus erupt through young and thin (6–7 km (3.7–4.3 mi)) mafic or ultra-mafic crust and are therefore uncontaminated by felsic crust and representative for their mantle sources.

These plateaus often rise 2–3 km (1.2–1.9 mi) above the surrounding ocean floor and are more buoyant than oceanic crust. They therefore tend to withstand subduction, more-so when thick and when reaching subduction zones shortly after their formations. As a consequence, they tend to "dock" to continental margins and be preserved as accreted terranes. Such terranes are often better preserved than the exposed parts of continental flood basalts and are therefore a better record of large-scale volcanic eruptions throughout Earth's history. This "docking" also means that oceanic plateaus are important contributors to the growth of continental crust. Their formations often had a dramatic impact on global climate, such as the most recent plateaus formed, the three, large, Cretaceous oceanic plateaus in the Pacific and Indian Ocean: Ontong Java, Kerguelen, and Caribbean.

Offshore Indus Basin

The offshore Indus Basin is one of the two basins in offshore Pakistan, the other one being the offshore Makran Basin. The Murray Ridge separates the two basins. The offshore Indus basin is approximately 120 to 140 kilometers wide and has an areal extent of ~20,000 square km.

Pelagic red clay

Pelagic red clay, also known as simply red clay, brown clay or pelagic clay, is a type of pelagic sediment.Pelagic clay accumulates in the deepest and most remote areas of the ocean. It covers 38% of the ocean floor and accumulates more slowly than any other sediment type, at only 0.1–0.5 cm/1000 yr. Containing less than 30% biogenic material, it consists of sediment that remains after the dissolution of both calcareous and siliceous biogenic particles while they settled through the water column. These sediments consist of eolian quartz, clay minerals, volcanic ash, subordinate residue of siliceous microfossils, and authigenic minerals such as zeolites, limonite and manganese oxides. The bulk of red clay consists of eolian dust. Accessory constituents found in red clay include meteorite dust, fish bones and teeth, whale ear bones, and manganese micro-nodules.These pelagic sediments are typically bright red to chocolate brown in color. The color results from coatings of iron oxide and manganese oxide on the sediment particles. In the absence of organic carbon, iron and manganese remain in their oxidized states and these clays remain brown after burial. When more deeply buried, brown clay may change into red clay due to the conversion of iron hydroxides to hematite.These sediments accumulate on the ocean floor within areas characterized by little planktonic production. The clays which comprise them are transported into the deep ocean in suspension, either in the air over the oceans or in surface waters. Both wind and ocean currents transport these sediments in suspension thousands of kilometers from their terrestrial source. As they are transported, the finer clays may stay in suspension for a hundred years or more within the water column before they settle to the ocean bottom. The settling of this clay-size sediment occurs primarily by the formation of clay aggregates by flocculation and by their incorporation into fecal pellets by pelagic organisms.

Physical oceanography

Physical oceanography is the study of physical conditions and physical processes within the ocean, especially the motions and physical properties of ocean waters.

Physical oceanography is one of several sub-domains into which oceanography is divided. Others include biological, chemical and geological oceanography.

Physical oceanography may be subdivided into descriptive and dynamical physical oceanography.Descriptive physical oceanography seeks to research the ocean through observations and complex numerical models, which describe the fluid motions as precisely as possible.

Dynamical physical oceanography focuses primarily upon the processes that govern the motion of fluids with emphasis upon theoretical research and numerical models. These are part of the large field of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics (GFD) that is shared together with meteorology. GFD is a sub field of Fluid dynamics describing flows occurring on spatial and temporal scales that are greatly influenced by the Coriolis force.

RV Investigator

RV Investigator is an Australian marine research vessel which was designed by RALion (joint venture between Robert Allan Ltd. and Alion Science and Technology). It was constructed in Singapore and is owned and managed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), through Australia's Marine National Facility, with its operations funded by the Australian Government to undertake oceanographic, geoscience, ecosystem and fisheries research. In May 2009 the Australian Government allocated A$120 million for a new ocean-going research vessel to replace the 1972 built RV Southern Surveyor, which has served as the principal research ship for Australia's Marine National Facility since 1988. RV Investigator was transferred from Sembawang Shipyard to the delivery crew on 5 August 2014 for pre-departure testing and setup. The vessel arrived at its home port of Hobart on 9 September 2014 and was officially launched on 12 December 2014.

Siliceous ooze

Siliceous ooze is a type of biogenic pelagic sediment located on the deep ocean floor. Siliceous oozes are the least common of the deep sea sediments, and make up approximately 15% of the ocean floor. Oozes are defined as sediments which contain at least 30% skeletal remains of pelagic microorganisms. Siliceous oozes are largely composed of the silica based skeletons of microscopic marine organisms such as diatoms and radiolarians. Other components of siliceous oozes near continental margins may include terrestrially derived silica particles and sponge spicules. Siliceous oozes are composed of skeletons made from opal silica Si(O2), as opposed to calcareous oozes, which are made from skeletons of calcium carbonate organisms (i.e. coccolithophores). Silica (Si) is a bioessential element and is efficiently recycled in the marine environment through the silica cycle. Distance from land masses, water depth and ocean fertility are all factors that affect the opal silica content in seawater and the presence of siliceous oozes.

Troodos Ophiolite

The Troodos Ophiolite on the island of Cyprus represents a Late Cretaceous spreading axis (mid-ocean ridge) that has since been uplifted due to its positioning on the overriding Anatolian plate at the Cyprus arc and subduction to the south of the Eratosthenes Seamount.

Undersea mountain range

Undersea mountain ranges are mountain ranges that are mostly or entirely underwater, and specifically under the surface of an ocean. If originated from current tectonic forces, they are often referred to as a mid-ocean ridge. In contrast, if formed by past above-water volcanism, they are known as a seamount chain. The largest and best known undersea mountain range is a mid-ocean ridge, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It has been observed that, "similar to those on land, the undersea mountain ranges are the loci of frequent volcanic and earthquake activity".

Wave base

The wave base, in physical oceanography, is the maximum depth at which a water wave's passage causes significant water motion. For water depths deeper than the wave base, bottom sediments and the seafloor are no longer stirred by the wave motion above.

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