A seabed mapping survey over a series of carbonate banks, intervening channels and surrounding sediment plains on the Van Diemen Rise in the eastern Joseph Bonaparte Gulf was completed under a Memorandum of Understanding between Geoscience Australia and the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences. The survey obtained detailed geological (sedimentological, geochemical, geophysical) and biological data (macro-benthic and infaunal diversity, community structure) for the banks, channels and plains to establish the late-Quaternary evolution of the region and investigate relationships between the physical environment and associated biota for biodiversity prediction. The survey also permits the biodiversity of benthos of the Van Diemen Rise to be put into a biogeographic context of the Arafura-Timor Sea and wider northern Australian marine region.
Four study areas were investigated across the outer to inner shelf. Multibeam sonar data provide 100 per cent coverage of the seabed for each study area and are supplemented with geological and biological samples collected from 63 stations. In a novel approach, geochemical data collected at the stations provide an assessment of sediment and water quality for surrogacy research. Oceanographic data collected at four stations on the Van Diemen Rise will provide an understanding of the wave, tide and ocean currents as well as insights into sediment transport. A total of 1,154 square kilometres of multibeam sonar data and 340 line-km of shallow (<100 mbsf) sub-bottom profiles were collected.
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