Original Paper

Geologische Rundschau

, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 49-58

First online:

Benthic-pelagic coupling in the Greenland-Norwegian Sea and its effect on the geological record

  • Gerhard GrafAffiliated withGEOMAR
  • , Sebastian A. GerlachAffiliated withIFM Kiel
  • , Peter LinkeAffiliated withGEOMAR
  • , Wolfgang QueisserAffiliated withGEOMAR
  • , Will RitzrauAffiliated withSFB 313
  • , Annette ScheltzAffiliated withSFB 313
  • , L. ThomsenAffiliated withGEOMAR
  • , Ursula WitteAffiliated withSFB 313

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The sedimentation pattern of organic material in the Greenland-Norwegian Sea is reflected in the surface sediments, although less than 0.5% of the organic matter is buried in the sediment. Maximum fluxes and benthic responses are observed during June and/or August/September, following the pattern of export production in the pelagial zone. The annual remineralization rate on the Vøring Plateau is 3.0 g C m−2 a −1 Freshly settled phytodetritus, as detected by chlorophyll measurements, is rapidly mixed into the sediment and decomposed. It stimulates the activity of benthic organisms, especially foraminifera. The mixing coefficient for this material is D b=0.2 cm2 d−1, which is two to three orders of magnitude higher than that estimated from radiotracer methods. The effect on the geological record, however, is likely to be small. Chlorophyll-containing particles are at first very evenly distributed on the seafloor. After partial decomposition and resuspension, a secondary redistribution of particles occurs which can result in the formation of a high accumulation area, with an up to 80-fold increase in the sedimentation rate by lateral advection. This is mainly due to physical processes, because biodeposition mediated by benthic animals increases sedimentation by only a factor of two or three.

Key words

Benthic-pelagic coupling Greenland-Norwegian Sea Remineralization Bioturbation Sediment accumulation