Deep-sea meiofauna off the Pacific coast of Tohoku and other trench slopes around Japan: a comparative study before and after the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake

Abstract

We compared meiofaunal assemblages obtained from the landward slope of the Japan Trench off the Sanriku region of Honshu Island before the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake, 4.5 months and 1.5 years after the earthquake. Sediment samples were collected after the earthquake along two transects. Meiofaunal density after the earthquake did not differ from that before the earthquake. However, meiofaunal composition after the earthquake was different from that before the earthquake, and the composition dispersion after the earthquake was lower than that before the earthquake. These results suggested that the turbidity current may have affected meiofaunal composition and reduced its variability. These changes were probably caused by the seismic motion and displacement of the substratum after the earthquake, rather than sediment redeposition induced by the earthquake. To assess the effect of the earthquake more thoroughly, we compared meiofaunal assemblage in the Sanriku region before and after the earthquake with that in the Kuril Trench (comparable productivity to the Sanriku region) and Ryukyu Trench (lower productivity). Differences in meiofaunal composition before and after the earthquake within the Sanriku region were lower than those between the Sanriku and Ryukyu regions. These results suggested that deep-sea meiofaunal assemblages are influenced by large-scale disturbances, but changes are within the range of variation generated by surface productivity levels.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to the officers and crew of the R.V. Tansei Maru and to the supporting staff from the Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute (AORI), the University of Tokyo and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). We also thank Dr. Hidetaka Nomaki (JAMSTEC) for his valuable suggestions. Generic Mapping Tools (GMT, Wessel and Smith 1995) was used in this study. We would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers who provided valuable comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. This research was partly supported by Tohoku Ecosystem-Associated Marine Sciences (TEAMS) from Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

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Correspondence to Tomo Kitahashi.

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Kitahashi, T., Watanabe, H., Ikehara, K. et al. Deep-sea meiofauna off the Pacific coast of Tohoku and other trench slopes around Japan: a comparative study before and after the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake. J Oceanogr 72, 129–139 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10872-015-0323-3

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Keywords

  • Meiofauna
  • Meiofaunal composition
  • Earthquake
  • Disturbance
  • Turbidity current
  • Trench slope