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Francesco L. Chiocci, University of Rome Sapienza, Italy
Martina Pierdomenico, University of Rome Sapienza, Italy
Daniele Casalbore, University of Rome Sapienza, Italy
Roberto Danovaro, Polytechnic University of Marche, Italy & Stazione Zoological Anton Dohrn, Italy
Gianfranco D’Onghia, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy
Federico Falcini, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, CNR, Italy
Francesca Budillon, Institute For Coastal Marine Environment, CNR, Italy
Fabiano Gamberi, Institute of Marine Sciences, CNR, Italy
Paolo Orrù, University of Cagliari, Italy
Silvia Ceramicola, National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics, Italy
Assessing anthropogenic impacts in the deep-sea: Marine litter along submarine canyons of the Central Mediterranean Sea

Determining the anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystems is becoming a key scientific topic, specifically considering the increasing human pressures on these ecosystems and the valuable goods and services they provide. Among the many anthropogenic alterations of ecosystem, marine litter is of global concern, since it is present in all the world’s oceans, including deep benthic habitats, where the extent of the problem is still largely unknown. Most studies on marine litter have investigated floating debris and coastal areas, whereas little is known about the types, quantities, or impacts litter may have on habitats beyond the continental shelf. A knowledge gap exists about the transfer mechanisms of litter to the deep sea, that could help to better understand their distribution and impacts.

In the framework of the National Project RITMARE, a study on marine litter in geologically active areas is recently started to reconstruct sedimentary and hydrodynamic processes responsible for its emplacement in deep-sea. Three areas (i.e. the Gioia and the Caulonia canyons in the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Calabrian margin respectively, and the Messina Strait) were selected because of the occurrence of submarine canyons deeply indenting narrow continental shelves, thus acting as preferential pathways for transport of sediment, and potentially litter, from the coast toward bathyal areas. It is also noteworthy that these canyons are directly connected with steep and narrow gravel-bed streams (locally named  fiumare), characterized by long periods of inactivity, during which their beds are completely dry and are often used as abusive wastes area, alternated to episodic flash floods, where a large amount of debris is transported into the sea possibly evolving into hyperpicnal flows. Based on previous reports of marine litter recovered in these areas, new data have been collected in February 2016 using remote sensing, ROV video transects, sediment samples and oceanographic measurements. The aim of this presentation is to show the preliminary results obtained during the cruise as well as to present the ongoing activities related to the definition and monitoring of the impact of deep-sea marine litter in geologically-active areas.

Theme 4: Physical and anthropogenic disturbance in submarine canyons, conservation and marine policy
Poster Presentation
Marine litter, sedimentary processes, litter managment