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UCC scientists discover stunning canyon

Wednesday, 5th September, 2018 4:37pm

Scientists have revealed the details of the discovery 320 kilometres west of Dingle, on the edge of Ireland’s continental shelf. The group returned last week after mapping 1,800 kilometres squared of seabed, covering an area twice the size of Malta.

The find is significant in understanding more about how submarine canyons help transport CO2 by absorbing it at the surface and pumping it into the deep ocean, where it cannot get back into the atmosphere.

The expedition, led by Dr Aaron Lim of UCC’s School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES), utilised the Marine Institute’s Holland 1 remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and mapping technologies to reveal the nature of the canyon.

“This is a vast submarine canyon system, with near-vertical 700 metre cliff in places and going as deep as 3,000 metres. You could stack ten Eiffel towers on top of each other in there,” Dr Lim said.

“This canyon is a natural laboratory from which we feel the pulse of the changing Atlantic.”

Dr Lim says the discovery coupled with recent findings on the Irish-Atlantic margin shows the advances in both Ireland’s marine technology and scientific workforce. “Ireland is world-class, and for a small country, we punch above our weight,” he said.

A research project explaining the significance of the discovery is now being undertaken by the marine geology research group of Professor Andy Wheeler, School of BEES, UCC.

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