Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Edited by Myriam Sibuet and Annick Vangriesheim
The long-term BIOZAIRE multidisciplinary deep-sea environmental program on the West Equatorial African margin organized in partnership between Ifremer and TOTAL aimed at characterizing the benthic community structure in relation with physical and chemical processes in a region of oil and gas interest. The morphology of the deep Congo submarine channel and the sedimentological structures of the deep-sea fan were established during the geological ZAIANGO project and helped to select study sites ranging from 350 to 4800 m water depth inside or near the channel and away from its influence. Ifremer conducted eight deep-sea cruises on board research vessels between 2000 and 2005. Standardized methods of sampling together with new technologies such as the ROV Victor 6000 and its associated instrumentation were used to investigate this poorly known continental margin. In addition to the study of sedimentary environments more or less influenced by turbidity events, the discovery of one of the largest cold seeps near the Congo channel and deep coral reefs extends our knowledge of the different habitats of this margin.