Cold-water coral banks and submarine landslides: a review

  • Ben De Mol
  • Veerle Huvenne
  • Miquel Canals
Original Paper


This paper aims to review the relation between cold-water coral bank development and submarine landslides. Both are common features on continental margins, but so far it has not been reviewed which effect—if at all—they may have upon each other. Indirect and direct relations between coral banks and landslides are evaluated here, based on four case studies: the Magellan Mound Province in the Porcupine Seabight, where fossil coral banks appear partly on top of a buried slide deposit; the Sula Ridge Reef Complex and the Storegga landslide both off mid-Norway; and the Mauritania coral bank province, associated with the Mauritanian Slide Complex. For each of these locations, positive and negative relationships between both features are discussed, based on available datasets. Locally submarine landslides might directly favour coral bank development by creating substratum where corals can settle on, enhancing turbulence due to abrupt seabed morphological variations and, in some cases, causing fluid seepage. In turn, some of these processes may contribute to increased food availability and lower sedimentation rates. Landslides can also affect coral bank development by direct erosion of the coral banks, and by the instantaneous increase of turbidity, which may smother the corals. On the other hand, coral banks might have a stabilising function and delay or stop the headwall retrogradation of submarine landslides. Although local relationships can be deduced from these case studies, no general and direct relationship exists between submarine landslides and cold-water coral banks.


Cold-water coral banks Submarine landslides Storegga Slide Mauritanian Slide complex Porcupine Seabight 



This study was originated in the framework of the EC FP5 RTN EURODOM and EC FP6 HERMES (contract GOCE-CT-2005-511234-1). GRC Geociències Marines (GRCGM) is funded by ‘‘Generalitat de Catalunya’’ excellence research grants program (ref. 2005 SGR-00152). GRCGM also acknowledges the support received from Landmark Graphics Corporation via the Landmark University Grant Program, and from SMT Inc. via the educational User License for Kingdom Suite interpretation software. The authors like to thank the reviewers, Martin Hovland and André Freiwald for their comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GRC Geociències MarinesParc Científic de Barcelona, Campus Diagonal, Universitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Geology and GeophysicsNational Oceanography Centre, SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  3. 3.GRC Geociències Marines, Departament d’Estratigrafia, Paleontologia i Geociències MarinesFacultat de Geologia, Universitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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