What determines the fate of materials within ocean margins?


When this diverse group of physicists, chemists, biologists, and geologists first met, a wide range of issues were prepared for discussion and these were subsequently crystallized to six questions that incorporated most of our concerns over what we felt to be important but poorly understood factors controlling the fate of materials in margins. These questions were discussed and are presented approximately in a flow pattern, from the physics of energy exchange through water column processes to the sediments. From the outset of our deliberations, it was evident that physical forcing by rivers, the atmosphere, and the oceans is a major determinant of all processes on continental margins. Furthermore, the type of forcing varies greatly from place to place, depending on the balance of the forcing functions and the geomorphology of the shelf. The group therefore began by first considering the physical forcings and their interactions with geomorphology before moving on to discuss biogeochemical cycles on and around ocean margins within their physical and geomorphological context. A theme of our deliberation was often to find common facdtors in shelves in order to simplify these complex systems. There is a danger that such attempts at rationalization will oversimplify the system, but it is also evident that some sort of simplification is necessary in order to begin to comprehend these complex and diverse systems.

In: Ocean margin processes in global change, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester