Presentation Open Access
ATLAS work package 3 presentation at ATLAS 3rd General Assembly
Three principal features connect the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean beyond the Strait of Gibraltar: the Mediterranean Outflow Water (MOW), a large number of common species and the Azores Gibraltar Fracture Zone (AGFZ). This geological entity is the boundary between the African and the Eurasian tectonic plates, but whereas in North-South direction it represents a remarkable geological limit, in East-West direction the AGFZ links the two continents with the Mid Atlantic Ocean Ridge. The complex tectonic setting and the associated volcanism along the fracture zone, is responsible of numerous seamounts and structural highs acting as stepping stones westward from the Strait of Gibraltar. Geomorphology strongly influences in the habitat suitability of the Atlantic-Mediterranean species directly and indirectly. The shapes of the structures determine the interaction with the water column configuration and dynamics, altering currents and vertical stratification through physical phenomena (i.e. Internal waves generation and braking, collisions of MEDIES, Taylor column formation, etc.). The interplay among AGFZ, MOW and the distribution of benthic species is the thread that lead us to the benthic ecology insights in this region.