Deep-sea benthic foraminifera at a bauxite industrial waste site in the Cassidaigne Canyon (NW Mediterranean)

ten months after the cessation of red mud dumping

Christophe Fontanier*, Briony Mamo, Deborah Mille, Pauline Duros, Olivier Herlory

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


During an environmental survey performed in autumn 2016, living (stained) benthic foraminiferal faunas were investigated at 16 stations sampled within the Cassidaigne Canyon (NW Mediterranean Sea) and surrounding area and located between 265–2500 m water depth. For many decades, industrial bauxite residues of red mud have drained into the canyon via a submarine pipe, causing physical disturbance and chemical contamination. In January 2016, solid waste disposal ceased and was replaced with the dumping of a low-density liquid effluent. Our ecological observations at the 725 m-depth station closest to the Cassidaigne Canyon submarine pipe show the highest concentration of the opportunistic species, and a strongly altered benthic diversity. At the other fifteen stations, foraminiferal standing stocks and simple diversity decrease with decreasing food input to the seafloor and increasing water depth. There, foraminiferal composition with a minor contribution of stress-tolerant species echoes the overall meso-oligotrophic patterns of a relatively stable ecosystem.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-101
Number of pages16
JournalComptes Rendus Geoscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Benthic foraminifera
  • Bauxite residues
  • Cassidaigne Canyon
  • Opportunistic species

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