Scientific Glossary

Glossary of terms and abbreviations relevant to the International Seabed Authority and the documents it produces

Please note that this is a constantly evolving document.

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Titlesort descending
Bacteria

Unicellular prokaryote organisms.

Bathyal

The deep-sea from the edge of the continental shelf (approximately 200m) down to the abyssal zone (1000-4000m depending on definition). Corresponds to the continental slope.

Bathybenthic

Pertaining to the seabed in the bathyal zone. Found above the abyssobenthic zone.

Bathymetry

The study, measurement and charting of water depths.

Bathypelagic

Referring to the zone of the ocean depths starting at the 10oC isotherm (100-700m depth depending on localised conditions). Extends down to the 4oC isotherm (approximately 2500m). There is no light source other than bioluminescence, temperature is uniformly low, and pressures are great. Found between the mesopelagic and abyssopelagic. {Figure}.

BBL

Benthic Boundary Layer / Bottom Boundary Layer

Benthic

Pertaining to the seabed. Divided into distinct depth regions including the bathybenthic and abyssobenthic zones.

Benthic Boundary Layer

The layer of water immediately above the seabed extending from ten to several hundred metres above the seabed. Synonymous withBottom Boundary Layer. Abbreviated to BBL

Benthic Impact Experiment

An experiment carried out in situ in the marine environment to determine the impact a certain activity, such as mining, may have on the seabed. Abbreviated to BIE.

Benthic Plume

A stream of water containing suspended particles produced as a result of disturbance of the seafloor which spreads in a zone close to the seabed. Compare to surface plume and rain of fines.

Benthopelagic

Pertaining to the zone very close to, and to some extent having contact with, the seafloor of deeper portions of the open ocean.

Benthos

Organisms living in, or on, the seabed.

BGR

Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources). German Geological Survey.

BIE

Benthic Impact Experiment.

Bioaccumulation

The accumulation of chemical substances from the environment within biological organisms. Results in higher concentrations of the bioaccumulated chemicals within the organism than in the surrounding medium.

Biodiversity

Contraction of the term "biological diversity". The variety of life in all its forms, levels and combinations. Includes ecosystem diversity,species diversity, and genetic diversity.

Biogeochemical Cycle

The cyclic transformation of chemicals through interacting biological, geological and chemical processes.

Biogeography

The study of geographical distributions of organisms, their habitats and the environmental or historical factors that produce them.

Biological Diversity

Synonymous with biodiversity.

Biomass

The mass of one or more species in a given area.

Biota

All of the plant and animal life of a particular region.

Biotic

Pertaining to life or living organisms. Opposite of abiotic

Bioturbation

The rearrangement of sediments by organisms as they burrow through or ingest them.

Black Smoker

Hydrothermal vent with a higher temperature (>350oC) than found at white smokers. Usually characterized by chalcopyrite and anhydrite deposits. The deposit and mineral rich water plume is dark in colour, hence the name.

Blake Trawl

Synonymous with Agassiz trawl but named after the ship used by Alexander Agassiz. Also called the Sigsbee trawl.

Bottom Boundary Layer

Synonymous with Benthic Boundary Layer. Abbreviated to BBL

Box Core

Sample taken with a box corer.

Box Corer

A relatively large, robust, quantitative sediment sampling device suitable for sampling a wide range of sediment types. Penetrates up to 50cm into the seabed using its own weight. Most often used for sampling macrofauna. An adaptation of the box core is thevegematic box corer.