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Article

Abstract

Relict sediments of elevated permeability characterize the majority of continental shelves globally (Emery, 1968). In these settings, interactions between benthic boundary layer (BBL) flows and seabed topography generate pressure fluctuations that drive advective and dispersive porewater transport, dramatically increasing the magnitude and variability of porewater solute and particulate exchange across the sediment-water interface (Huettel et al., 1996; Huettel and Rusch, 2000). On broad shallow shelves with a relatively large area-to-volume ratio, the seafloor’s role is magnified. Energetic events may reorganize bedforms across a significant fraction of the shelf, leading to altered exchange dynamics that may persist long after the organizing event. Ecosystem-based management of both resources and environmental status requires improved fundamental understanding of dynamic benthic exchange processes. Scattered, short-time-scale observations are unlikely to capture the full spectrum of events that affect sediment-water exchanges; a persistent observational presence on the seafloor is required.

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