Seafloor

Marine Biology Research Group

The Marine Biology Research Group, led by professors Vincx, Vanreusel and Moens, has a proven expertise in ecological and systematic research of marine benthic ecosystems worldwide with a focus on the study of patterns and processes of benthic biodiversity (from bacteria, Archaea, nematodes, copepods, polychaetes, bivalves, crustaceans, demersal fish,...). Benthic communities are analysed in relation to environmental changes by means of field sampling or by controlled lab and field experiments. The obtained data allow to quantify the functional responses of benthic organisms to e.g. temperature rises, ocean acidification, eutrophication, food quantity and quality, invasive species, trawling, windmills, coastal defence structures,… Furthermore, the obtained biodiversity patterns and individual responses of species are analysed in the context of ecosystem functioning, with a strong interaction between the biota, the environmental factors (both pelagic phase and seafloor) and the biogeochemical processes. The Marine Biology Research group generated long-term databases on the distribution of benthic communities that are relevant for marine conservation and management. Study sites: world-wide ranging from the intertidal and subtidal areas of the North Sea, intertidal mudflats along the Westerschelde estuary, tropical seagrass beds and mangrove forests, natural CO2 seepage sites to more extreme ecosystems like the deep sea, continental margins and polar regions.  

Renard Centre of Marine Geology

The Renard Centre of Marine Geology, led by professors De Batist and Van Rooij, develops seismic technologies for high-resolution geological investigations in marine environments, including applications for deep-water ROV exploration. Acoustical technologies for advanced sea-floor mapping are also developed and applied. They furthermore focus on geodynamics, seismic- and sequence-stratigraphy and palaeoceanography of continental margins on a global scale. Other research topics are the occurrence and stability of methane hydrates, estimation of methane fluxes, cold seeps, mud volcanoes, deep-water coral habitats, the sustainable use of natural resources and the evaluation of toxic dump sites.