Micro-morphologies, habitats and associated biodiversity in a fluid venting submarine structure using ROV underwater images: Mercator mud volcano (Gulf of Cádiz)
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AuthorsSánchez-Guillamón, O. (Olga); Rueda, J.L. (José Luis); Vázquez, J.T. (Juan Tomás); Palomino, D. (Desirée); Somoza, L.; Fernández-Puga, M.C.; González, F.J.; Fernández-Salas, L.M. (Luis Miguel); Medialdea, T.; Madureira, P.; Rincón-Tomás, B.; Pamo, E.; Gallardo-Núñez, M. (Marina); León, R.; López-González, N. (Nieves)
Mercator mud volcano has been explored by direct visual observations using a ROV at 350 to 370 m depth. Underwater images, taken mainly at the summit, have allowed characterizing the fluid venting environment, where different microforms, habitats and associated biota, with typical seepage components have been identified. Chemosynthetic bacterial communities were detected and sampled at the northeastern side of the summit at 350 m, next to pockmark-like depressions with diameters ranging 1 to 3 m, bioturbation marks, sediment mounds and authigenic carbonates of different sizes (0.1-5m length). Chemosynthesis-based communities were mainly composed by bacterial mats (patch diameter 10-30 cm), however some remains of cold seep chemosymbiotic bivalves (Lucinoma asapheus) were also found on the sediment. Habitat types at Mercator MV are influenced by oceanographic and sedimentation processes deposition and favouring fauna colonizing diverse substrate types, such as large sponges on slabs and ...
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