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Sidescan backscatter variations of cold seeps on the Hikurangi Margin (New Zealand): indications for different stages in seep development

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Abstract

Cold seeps on the Hikurangi Margin off New Zealand exhibit various seabed morphologies producing different intensity patterns in sidescan backscatter images. Acoustic backscatter characteristics of 25 investigated seep sites fall into four distinct types characterised by variations in backscatter intensity, distribution and inferred structural heights. The types reflect different carbonate morphologies including up to 20-m-high structures (type 1), low-relief crusts (type 2), scattered blocks (type 3) and carbonate-free sites (type 4). Each seep corresponds to a single type; intermediates were not observed. This correlates well with published data on seep fauna at each site, with the four types representing three different faunal habitats of successive stages of seep development. Backscatter signatures in sidescan sonar images of cold seeps may therefore serve as a convenient proxy for variations in faunal habitats.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the captains, crews and scientific staff of RV SONNE cruises SO191 and SO214 for their excellent support. The cruises were financed by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) under grants no. 03G0191A and 03G0214. We thank Wilhelm Weinrebe for producing the bathymetry grids, and Volker Liebetrau for a stimulating discussion of carbonate precipitation. Avan N. Antia is acknowledged for helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. Daniel Praeg and the editors are thanked for constructive reviews and comments that helped significantly to improve our manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ines Dumke.

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Dumke, I., Klaucke, I., Berndt, C. et al. Sidescan backscatter variations of cold seeps on the Hikurangi Margin (New Zealand): indications for different stages in seep development. Geo-Mar Lett 34, 169–184 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00367-014-0361-7

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