Advances in Earth Science
Guangfa Zhong. Current Status of Scientific Deep-diving Investigations in Submarine Canyons[J]. Advances in Earth Science, 2019, 34(11): 1111-1119.
Submarine canyons represent one of the most important geomorphologic features in continental margins, act as one of the most important conduits of seafloor sediment transporting from shallow waters into the deep sea, and are also biodiversity hotspots. Submarine-canyon investigations are therefore significant for seafloor scientific research, submarine mineral and resource exploitation, and the construction and safety operation of submarine infrastructures. Deep-sea diving by manned submersibles and robot submersibles represented by Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) provides an important approach to the investigation of modern submarine canyons. The biggest advantage of manned submersibles is that they can bring scientists to the deep sea for in-place observations and precise sampling, while the robot deep-sea diving has the advantages of low cost, high efficiency, no personnel safety concerns, and the ability to reach the extreme sea areas that are difficult for humans to reach. Deep-sea diving has found broad applications in the geo-scientific research of submarine canyons. These studies cover seafloor topography and geomorphology, seafloor sediments, erosional and depositional bedforms, mass transport processes and flow dynamics, cold springs, cold-water corals and other biological habitats, as well as seafloor biological erosion. The research experience and scientific findings in scientific diving investigation of submarine canyons accumulated by the developed countries in Europe and the United States over the past 70 years are of great reference and significance to the emerging scientific deep-sea diving in China.