The DeepFall Project

The deep sea – the portion of the oceans below the 200 m depth – is the largest biome on the planet and covers about 60% of the Earth’s surface. Nevertheless, the deep-sea ecosystems remain largely unknown. Indeed we know more about the moon’s surface than the ocean seafloor.

The life of the deep-sea organisms generally depends on the fall of particles and matter that comes from shallower waters. Anthropogenic materials accumulate on the seafloor as well as the natural matter. Among other materials, wood and terrestrial debris of natural or anthropogenic origins may accumulate too.

Sunken wood (wood-falls) triggers the settlement of numerous deep-sea species, from chemo-synthetic bacteria to specialized invertebrates.

In particular, several molluscs species, Xylophagainae (Bivalvia), may bore into wood and use it as a primary source of nutrition: they may be considered the termites of the deep-sea!

The DeepFall Project aims to contribute to the knowledge of deep-sea ecosystems by answering some specific questions:

  • What is the fate of the terrestrial debris and wood that accumulate on the ocean floor?
  • What species can take advantages of the sunken wood?