Marine benthic habitats of the George V Land shelf, Antarctica
February 08, 2004

Authors: Beaman, R.J.

Year: 2004

Publication: J. McPhie and P. McGoldrick (Editors), Dynamic Earth: Past, Present & Future, 17th Australian Geological Convention, 8-13 February 2004. Geological Society of Australia, Hobart, Australia.


The George V Land shelf lies offshore of the eastern sector of the Australian Antarctic Territory. Recent ship-borne expeditions to the area collected multibeam swath data, seismic profiles, and conducted sediment analysis on grabs and cores. The shelf is notable as the drainage site for the Mertz Glacier Tongue, which extends over the approximately 1200 m deep George V Basin and grounds on the shallow 200 m deep Mertz Bank.

The shelf is described in terms of the dynamic of the past geological history, and the present oceanographic and sedimentary processes impacting on the shelf environment. Data on the fauna and flora of the shelf seabed are limited, however, the distribution of benthic foraminifera, diatoms and some macrobenthos is described. A preliminary benthic habitat classification of the George V Land shelf is presented. Clues to the future dynamics of the Antarctic shelf are to be found within the sediments of the deep basins such as the George V Basin.

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