Particle Fluxes and Sediment Characteristics at Three Selected Sites in the Ross Sea (Antarctica)

  • M. Ravaioli
  • M. Frignani
  • M. C. Gambi
  • L. Labbrozzi
  • L. Langone
Conference paper


We studied three selected sites of the Ross Sea to understand the relationships between their depositional characteristics and benthic fauna. Box cores were collected at each site and sediments were described and analysed for macrobenthos composition and concentrations of biogenic components. The three sites show different lithologies: A and B are subject to present open-sea bio-genic sedimentation and differ only slightly, whereas C, being winnowed by strong bottom currents, is characterised by a residual glacial-marine sediment. 210Pbex inventories suggest that both sites A and B are subject to processes of focusing, thus collecting sediments transported from nearby areas. Apparent burial rates were calculated on the basis of 210Pb chronologies and, for core B, corrected using 14C data. A and B show similar apparent mass accumulation rates (89 and 104 mg cm-2 yr-1, respectively) as well as burial rates of biogenic species. These rates are overestimated, due to the influence of deep mixing on the210Pbex profiles: using 14C dates a factor of 2.7 was calculated for site B. Benthic communities differ in composition, density and structure. The presence of infaunal forms, mainly surface and sub-surface deposit feeders, with reworking capability characterise sites A and B, whereas at site C the community is mainly composed by epibenthic filter feeders and is strongly influenced by sediment instability. These differences are mainly due to bottom water dynamics and, when comparing A and B, to water depth and, perhaps, to the slightly different lithologies which reflect the locations of the sites and the different sources of sedimentary materials.


Particle Flux Biogenic Silica Mass Accumulation Rate Burial Rate Biogenic Component 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Ledford-Hoffman PA, DeMaster DJ, Nittrouer CA (1986) Biogenic silica in the Ross Sea and the importance of Antarctic continental-shelf deposits in the marine silica budget. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 50: 2099–2110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    DeMaster DJ, Nelson TM, Harden SL, Nittrouer CA (1991) The cycling and accumulation of bio-genic silica, and organic carbon in Antarctic deep-sea and continental margin environments. Mar Chem 35: 489–502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    DeMaster DJ, Ragueneau O, Nittrouer CA (1996) Preservation efficiencies and accumulation rates for biogenic silica and organic C, N and P in high-latitude sediments: the Ross Sea. J Geophys Res 101: 18501–18518Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Harden SL, DeMaster DJ, Nittrouer CA (1992) Developing sediment geochronologies for high-latitude continental shelf deposits: a radiochemical approach. Mar Geol 103: 69–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Labbrozzi L, Langone L, Frignani M, Ravaioli M (1998) Burial rates for biogenic silica, organic C and N at three sites of the Ross Sea (Antarctica). Proc. XII AIOL Congress, Isola di Vulcano, Italy, 18–21 September 1996, II, 121–130Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Frignani M, Langone L, Labbrozzi L, Ravaioli M (1998) Biogeochemical processes in the Ross Sea (Antarctica): present knowledge and perspectives. In: Faranda F, Guglielmo L, Ianora A (eds) Ross Sea ecology. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, in pressGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Smith WO Jr, Nelson DM, Di Tullio GR, Leventer AR (1996) Temporal and spatial patterns in the Ross Sea. Phytoplankton biomass, elemental composition, productivity and grow rates. J Geophys Res 101: 18445–18465Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Smith WO Jr, Nelson DM (1985) Phytoplankton bloom produced by a receding ice edge in the Ross Sea: spatial coherence with the density field Science 227: 163–166Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Anderson JB, Brake CF, Myers NC (1984) Sedimentation on the Ross Sea continental shelf, Antarctica. Mar Geol 57: 295–333Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Dunbar RB, Anderson JB, Domack EW, Jacobs SS (1985) Oceanographic influences on sedimentation along the Antarctic continental shelf. In: Jacobs SS (ed) Oceanography of the Antarctic Continental Shelf. Ant Res Ser AGU 43: 291–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Comiso JC, McClain CR, Sullivan CW, Ryan JP, Leonard C (1993) Coastal zone color scanner pigment concentrations in the Southern Ocean and relationship to geophysical surface features. J Geophys Res 98: 2419–2451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Smith WO Jr, Gordon LI (1997) Hyperproductivity of the Ross Sea ( Antarctica) polynya during austral spring. Geophys Res Lett, 24, 233–236Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    DeMaster DJ (1979) The marine budgets of silica and Si-32. PhD thesis,Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 308 ppGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    DeMaster DJ (1981) The supply and accumulation of silica in the marine environment. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 45: 1715–1732CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Frignani M, Langone L (1991) Accumulation rates and 137Cs distribution in sediments off the Po River delta and the Emilia-Romagna coast (northwestern Adriatic Sea, Italy ). Cont Shelf Res 11: 525–542Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Asioli A (1995) Living (stained) benthic Foraminifera distribution in the western Ross Sea (Antarctica). Palaeopelagos 5: 201–214Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Rhoads D (1974) Organism-sediment relations on the muddy sea floor. Oceanogr Mar Bio! Ann Rev 12: 263–300Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Dayton PK, Oliver JS (1977) Antarctic soft bottom benthos on oligotrophic and eutrophic environments. Science 197: 55–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Gambi MC, Castelli A, Guizzardi M (1997) Polychaete populations of the shallow soft bottoms off Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea, Antarctica): distribution, diversity and biomass. Pol Biol 17: 199–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Langone L, Frignani M, Labbrozzi L, Ravaioli M (1998) Present day biosiliceous sedimentation in the NW Ross Sea ( Antarctica ). J Mar Systems, 17, 459–470Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Picco P, Amici L, Meloni R, Langone L, Ravaioli M (1998) Temporal variability of currents in the Ross Sea (This Vol. )Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Goldberg ED, Koide M (1962) Geochronological studies of deep sea sediments by the ionium/thorium method. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 51: 1897–1921Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Nittrouer CA, DeMaster DJ, McKee BA, Cutshall NH, Larsen IL (1983/1984) The effect of sediment mixing on 210Pb accumulation rates for the Washington continental shelf. Mar Geol 54, 201–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Appleby PG, Oldfield F (1978) The calculation of 210Pb dates assuming a constant rate of supply of unsupported 210Pb to the sediment. Catena 5: 1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Robbins JA (1978) Geochemical and geophysical application of radioactive lead. In: Nriagu JO (ed.) The biogeochemistry of lead in the environment. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 85–393Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    DeMaster DJ, Dunbar RB, Gordon LI, Leventer AR, Morrison JM, Nelson DM, Nittrouer CA, Smith WO Jr (1992) Cycling and accumulation of biogenic silica and organic matter in high-latitude environments: the Ross Sea. Oceanography 5: 146–153Google Scholar
  27. 26.
    DeMaster DJ, Dunbar RB, Gordon LI, Leventer AR, Morrison JM, Nelson DM, Nittrouer CA, Smith WO Jr (1992) Cycling and accumulation of biogenic silica and organic matter in high-latitude environments: the Ross Sea. Oceanography 5: 146–153Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Roughgarden J, Gaines SD, Pacala SW (1987) “Supply side ecology”: the role of physical transport processes. In: Gee JHR, Giller PS (eds.) Organization of Communities. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 491–518Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia, Milano 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Ravaioli
    • 1
  • M. Frignani
    • 1
  • M. C. Gambi
    • 2
  • L. Labbrozzi
    • 1
  • L. Langone
    • 1
  1. 1.lstituto di Geologia MarinaCNRBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Stazione Zoologica “A. Dohrn”, Laboratory of Benthic EcologyNapoliItaly

Personalised recommendations