Geodiversity describes the heterogeneity of the physical terrain. We have performed basin-wide geodiversity analysis on a glaciated epicontinental seabed to assess geodiversity measures and patterns, locate areas with high geodiversity, and draw conclusions on contributing processes. Geodiversity quantification is a rather new topic and is mainly practiced in land areas. We applied geodiversity methods developed for terrestrial studies to a seabed environment. Three geodiversity parameters, including the richness, patchiness, and geodiversity index, of the Baltic Sea were assessed in a GIS environment based on broad-scale datasets on seabed substrates, structures, and bedrock. A set of environmental and geological variables, which were considered to reflect geological processes under seabed conditions, were compared with the geodiversity to identify some of its drivers. We observed differences in the geodiversity levels of the Baltic subbasins, which are mainly due to basement type/bedrock, roughness, shore density, and glacier-derived processes. The geodiversity of the Baltic Sea generally increases from South to North and from open-sea to high-shore density areas (archipelagos). Crystalline bedrock areas provide more diverse seabed environments than sedimentary rock areas. The analysis helps to inform scientists, marine spatial planners, and managers about abiotic conservation values, the dynamics of the seabed environment, and potential areas with elevated biodiversity.
Geomorphology – Elsevier
Published: Oct 15, 2017
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