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Free Content Cold-seep benthic communities in the Japan subduction zones: Geological control of community development

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A large number of Calyptogena-dominated benthic communities, apparently chemosynthetically-based, were discovered at methane-rich pore-water seeps in the Japan subduction zones (3850–6000 m depth). Photographic and video surveys from four submersible dives were analyzed to study the influence of faulting, topography and substratum on exploitation of cold seeps by megafauna. Pore-water seepage occurred in a variety of geological settings, including subduction-erosion and accretionary prism formation, always in association with major faults which likely facilitated upward migration of fluids from a deep high-pressure zone. Sediment cover and manganese crusts on the seafloor appeared to block pore-water discharge, except where interrupted by erosion, slumping or outcropping. Sediment or mudstone substrata may increase lateral diffusion of rising fluids, permitting more extensive biological exploitation than where fluids discharge directly from exposed rock. Cold seeps are ephemeral. Large long-lived “fields” of cold seeps may be important in the maintenance of regional populations of seep organisms and the transfer of cold-seep productivity to the surrounding deep-sea ecosystem.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 1988

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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