Research Vessel Sonne | Photo: M. Hartig/Meyer Werft

The Saya de Malha Bank

The Saya de Malha Bank (SMB) is part of the Mascarene Ridge which is a N-S trending aseismic ridge in the western Indian Ocean. It covers an area of 40.000 km2 and is the world’s largest submerged atoll structure. Water depth ranges between 8 and 140m casting the question why there are no islands on the platform. Due to its remote location between 4 and 20°S very little is known about the SMB but the location offers also advantages. Far away from inhabited islands it is a natural laboratory where effects of ocean acidification on reef development can be studied without local human interventions.

The project

MASCARA is a joint project with partners from the University of Hamburg, the MPI Mainz, The Netherlands as well as Seychelles and Israel. The field work will be conducted during he research cruise with research vessel (RV) Sonne in September and October 2019.

Our goal is to characterise the biogeochemical properties of water masses flushing the SMB in order to estimate impacts of water masses on the aragonite and calcite saturation state and the carbonate sedimentation. Therewith, we aim at proving the hypothesis that chemical rather than physical properties of the water masses limit the reef growth and prevents island formation at the SMB.


Project Partners

Christian Betzler (University of Hamburg, Germany)

Kay Emeis (University of Hamburg, Germany)

Gerhard Schmiedl (University of Hamburg, Germany)

Thomas Lüdmann (University of Hamburg, Germany)

Ralf  Schiebel (Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany)

John Reijmer (College of Petroleum Engineering & Geosciences – CPG, Netherlands)

Or M. Bialik (University of Haifa, Israel)

Jerome Harlay (University of Seychelles - UniSey)