To make progress in understanding the distribution and genesis of coral mounds in cold and dark water, maps of morphology and oceanographic conditions resolving features at the 1-10 m scale are needed. An autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) cruising 40 m above the seafloor surveyed a 48 km2 coral mound field in 600-800 m water depth at the base of slope of Great Bahama Bank. The AUV acquired 1-3 meter resolution acoustic backscatter and bathymetry together with current vectors, salinity, and temperature. The multibeam bathymetry resolved more than 200 coral mounds reaching up to 90 m height. Mound morphology is surprisingly diverse and mound distribution follows E-W oriented off-bank ridges., Bottom currents reverse every 6 hours indicating tidal flow decoupled from the north flowing surface current. The AUV data fill the gap between low-resolution surface-based mapping and visual observations on the seafloor, revealing the dynamic environment and spatial relationships of an entire coral mound field.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)