A multi-scale investigation into seafloor topography of the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge based on geographic information system analysis

Tomasz Niedzielski, Åge Høines, Mark A. Shields, Thomas D. Linley, Imants G. Priede

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The Mid Atlantic Ridge (MAR) has been identified as an important component of the lower bathyal (800−3500 m depth) benthic biogeographic province in the North Atlantic Ocean. We performed a multi-scale characterization of seafloor topography of the MAR. In the basin-scale analysis, we have used the 30″ General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) grid to estimate the area of different components of lower bathyal habitat in the main North Atlantic basin and to produce a corresponding depth–area relationship. The regional-scale investigation is based on swath bathymetry surveys which show the flanks to MAR to comprise a series of sediment-draped flat plains (37.65% of area) with intervening gentle slopes ranging from 5° to 30° (56.70% of area) and slopes steeper than 30° (5.65% of area). The steep slopes have significant areas of hard substrate (70%) comprising bare cliff faces and rock outcrops. Within the local-scale approach, detailed surveys of such steep areas were done by multi-beam sonar and cameras mounted on a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). In several locations, the terrace-like seafloor topography has also been identified. Overall, it has been shown that the MAR lower bathyal is 95% covered with soft sediment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-243
Number of pages13
JournalDeep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Issue numberPart B
Early online date18 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2013



  • mid-ocean ridge
  • Bathymetry
  • sea-floor topography
  • Seamount
  • Benthos
  • Bathyal
  • sediment
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • geographic information system (GIS)
  • remotely operated vehicle (ROV)

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