Research Report 2007

Deciphering the sea floor

The ocean seabed is the gateway for exchange of organisms, particles, and dissolved compounds between marine sediment deposits and the overlying ocean. It is also a remote, dynamic setting that is difficult to explore, and covers most of the Earth.As Canada Research Chair in Seabed Processes and Seabed Imaging, Dr. Bentley will study geological processes and products of the seabed and near-bottom waters, as well as physical, chemical, and biological processes that contribute to these outcomes.

Dr. Bentley standing on wharf

Dr. Bentley

Exchange processes near the seabed are many and varied, and include the feeding of fishes living on the bottom of the sea on benthic organisms, oxygen and carbon transfer and reactions across the sediment-water interface, and the deposition of sediment particles to form sediment layers that are the building blocks of continental margins. Lateral variations in these processes produce corresponding gradients in seabed properties that, in turn, define the boundaries of contrasting geological and biological settings. These diverse phenomena are complex and intimately interwoven, and exert strong control on the development of marine ecosystems, cycling of organic carbon, and the physical and engineering properties of sedimentary strata.

In addition to improving our basic understanding of natural phenomena, Dr. Bentley's research will have direct bearing in economically and environmentally significant areas, including: the formation of petroleum source, reservoir, and seal rocks; fate and transport of particle-associated contaminants; and the record of human impacts on change in marine systems.

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