Benthic recovery from physical disturbance in a deep-sea nodule field in the Pacific Ocean

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
The growing demand for metals and recent developments in technology have stimulated the interest in mining polymetallic nodules in the deep sea. The largest, and hence commercially most attractive, nodule fields lie in the deep Pacific Ocean, between 4000 and 6000 m water depth. Disturbance tests are necessary to evaluate the impact on and recovery of the environment. In the summer of 2014 a dredge was towed in a polymetallic nodule field. Nearly one year later this area will be revisited to gauge the recovery of the benthos. Sediment samples and ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) imagery will be collected in the disturbed and undisturbed area. These samples will be compared in terms of standing stock, community composition and diversity. Faunal data will be interpreted in light of the available information on the status of the environment. This study will address multiple benthic groups varying from small-sized micro- and meiofauna to megafauna, allowing the student to become familiarized with these different benthic biota from a relatively unexplored habitat.
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contact person first name: 
Ellen Pape
Reference Number: RP-34952