Skip to main content

Agadir Canyon: the Underwater 'Grand Canyon'

Agadir Canyon

agadir canyon

(Image credit: Sebastian Krastel (Kiel University))

Researchers just completed a A five-week expedition to map and sample a giant underwater canyon off the northwest coast of Morocco. The team discovered that Agadir Canyon produced the world's largest sediment flow about 60,000 years ago, depositing up to 38 cubic miles (160 cubic km) of sludge during a single catastrophic landslide. Above: A 3D seafloor bathymetry map of upper Agadir Canyon.

3D perspective image of Agadir Canyon

agadir canyon

(Image credit: Sebastian Krastel (Kiel University))

3D perspective image of Agadir Canyon, looking upslope towards Morocco and the Atlas Mountains. The red arrow shows the pathway of flows running along the canyon floor and is 450 km long.

Sampling the Seafloor

ocean bottom instrument

(Image credit: Russell Wynn (NOC))

The team used the National Oceanography Centre's towed ocean bottom instrument to take samples of the sediment and sealife.

Sediment Core

Sediment Core

(Image credit: Russell Wynn (NOC))

A sediment core from lower Agadir Canyon, showing colorful landslide deposits transported from further upslope. The numbers are centimeters below seafloor, i.e. the core penetrated to 5.3 meters.

Coral in Box Core

coral

(Image credit: Russell Wynn (NOC))

The researchers took box cores of the seafloor and recovered live cold-water corals from about 600 m water depth.

Coral in Box Core

coral

(Image credit: Russell Wynn (NOC))

Another box core with live coral.

Tanya Lewis
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.