Ocean Margin Systems

pp 365-385

Reef-Forming Cold-Water Corals

  • A. FreiwaldAffiliated withInstitut für Geologie und Paläontologie, Universität Tübingen Email author 

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Coral reefs are something we usually associate with warm, tropical waters and exotic fish, but not with the cold, deep and dark waters of the North Atlantic, where corals were regarded as oddities on the seafloor. It is now known that cold-water coral species also produce reefs which rival their tropical cousins in terms of their species richness and diversity. Increasing commercial operations in deep waters, and the use of advanced offshore technology have slowly revealed the true extent of Europe’s hidden coral ecosystems. This article reviews current knowledge about the reef-forming potential and the environmental controls of the scleractinian Lophelia pertusa along different deep-shelf and continental margin settings with special reference to NE Atlantic occurrences.