Swiss Journal of Geosciences

, Volume 111, Issue 3, pp 561–572 | Cite as

Benthic foraminifera in a deep-sea high-energy environment: the Moira Mounds (Porcupine Seabight, SW of Ireland)

  • Robin FentimenEmail author
  • Andres Rüggeberg
  • Aaron Lim
  • Akram El Kateb
  • Anneleen Foubert
  • Andrew J. Wheeler
  • Silvia Spezzaferri


Cold-water coral ecosystems represent unique and exceptionally diverse environments in the deep-sea. They are well developed along the Irish margin, varying broadly in shape and size. The Moira Mounds, numerous small-sized mounds, are nestled in the Belgica Mound Province (Porcupine Seabight, North-East Atlantic). The investigation of living (Rose Bengal stained) and dead benthic foraminiferal assemblages from these mounds allowed to describe their distribution patterns and to evaluate their response to environmental variability. Quantitative data was statistically treated to define groups of species/genera associated to specific habitats. The Moira Mounds differ from their larger neighbours by the reduced spatial variability of benthic foraminiferal assemblages, living assemblages only distinguishing coral-rich and coral-barren areas. The ecological needs of corals are highlighted by the abundance of Alabaminella weddellensis and Nonionella iridea, phytodetritus-feeding species in coral supporting sediments. Living foraminifera in sediments from the Moira Mounds concentrate in the upper first centimetre. Infaunal species may be affected by bioturbation and/or reworking by the strong currents in the area. Dead foraminiferal assemblages from the Moira Mounds resemble those described for the sandwave facies in adjacent giant mounds, suggesting similar processes in facies deposition.


Benthic foraminifera Cold-water corals Carbonate mounds Bio-sedimentary facies 



We acknowledge the Captain, crew and scientific party of the RV Belgica cruise no. 2012/16. The Moira Mounds were sampled during the cruise funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013), under the EUROFLEETS Grant Agreement no. 228344. This study is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Project no. FN-200020_153125). We thank Thierry Adatte for performing the Rock-Eval pyrolysis. Furthermore, we warmly thank Dr. Joachim Schönfeld and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments which improved the quality of this work.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 74414 kb)


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Copyright information

© Swiss Geological Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeosciencesUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland
  2. 2.School of Biological, Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  3. 3.Irish Centre for Research in Applied GeosciencesUniversity College CorkCorkIreland

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