Barkley Canyon NEPTUNE Canada node is located seaward from the Folger Passage node. The Barkely Canyon site is a small plateau about 850 meters deep on the north wall of Barkley Canyon, a submarine canyon about 100 km off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The Barkley Canyon drops down the continental slope toward the abyss. Canyons are typically sites of underwater landslides as well as movement of sediment, organic material and nutrients to the deep ocean.
||The Barkley Canyon site consists of ice-like gas hydrate outcrops which form when gases (mainly methane) combine with water at cold temperatures and enourmous pressures. These conditions are found in the sediment areas where water depth is greater than 600 meters. The molecules of methane become locked in a cage of water molecules to form crystals. These crystals look like ice, and they cement together the ocean sediments. In some places a solid layer of crystals—called methane hydrate—extends from the sea floor down hundreds of meters.
|Also, methane and sulfide rich fluids seep out of the ocean floor in this area, called "cold seeps", creating a unique environment supporting creatures new to science (see video below).
Video of organisms of Barkley Canyon featuring
- a methane seep with clams and bacterial mat
- glass sponge and associated organisms
- black coral, anenome and thornyhead
The Barkley Canyon node allows scientists to study changes in biological and chemical activity associated with nutrient and sediment transport through the canyon to the deep sea. Barkley Canyon is the only known site on Canada's west coast with gas hydrates.
|Hydrates are formed along the subducting continental margins where sediments are scraped off the subducting plate onto the over-riding plate, forming an accretionary wedge (the top layer of sedimentary material on a tectonic plate, that accumulate and deform where oceanic and continental plates collide. These sediments are scraped off the top of the downgoing oceanic crustal plate and are appended to the edge of the continental plate).
Click here to learn about Barkley Canyon food web.
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