Patterns & Processes in Antarctic Benthic Communities. Project No. 21 2002-2004

Project Description
The continental shelf around Antarctica is relatively narrow, 60 to 240km wide. It ranges from very shallow areas of less than 50m near the coast to areas deeper than 800m deep. The average depth is 500m. Beyond the shelf the Antarctic continental slope descends to over 3000m and levels out on the abyssal plains at depths of 3700 - 5000m (5km) deep. Soft sediments (mud, sand and gravel) are the single largest habitat on the continental shelf, slope and abyssal plains in Antarctica, and probably cover over 90% of the seabed. The abyssal plains consist only of soft-sediments with occasional boulders.

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