Maps of seafloor habitats are important predictors of biodiversity and a key input into marine spatial planning
Submarine canyons in the Mediterranean and Black Seas stand out as globally different based on studies of global canyon geomorphology; they are more closely spaced, more dendritic (more limbs per unit area), shorter, have the smallest mean area, are among the most steep and have a smaller depth range than canyons that occur in other regions of the world. Here we present the results of a multivariate analysis of submarine canyon geomorphology to explore in more detail the apparently unique attributes of Mediterranean canyons.
We find that Mediterranean canyons can be divided into six Classes, dominated by "Class 4" that is characterized by small area, close canyon spacing and a relatively high percentage of shelf incising canyons. On a global basis, Class 4 canyons are found to occur mainly (68%) on active continental margins. Examples of other regions in the world containing large numbers of Class 4 canyons are described.