The Nazare Canyon:
A virtual tour

The Nazare Canyon lies between 39° and 40° N and is a relatively simple canyon system that extends from the coast of Portugal to the Iberian Abyssal Plain at more than 5000 m water depth. Although the canyon head is almost in contact with the beach, It does not connect with a river, but still acts as a major conduit of sediment because it intersects the continental shelf almost completely and therefore captures all along-slope sediment transport.

The Nazare Canyon is one of a series of canyons along the Portuguese margin, including the Setubal Canyon.

Right: 3D map of the Portuguese canyons.
Click on image to enlarge.

Mapping of the canyon has revealed highly variable topography. The upper slope, for instance, between 700 and 1400m, is characterised by steep slopes, gullies, terrace-like features and a V-shaped canyon floor profile. Deeper, the canyon floor broadens out to about 100 to 200m. Below about 4000m the canyon is about 5 to 6 km wide with a central channel evident about 100 to 200m across, resembling in many ways a river valley.

Above: Bathymetric image of the Nazare Canyon. The colours indicate water depth - green is shallow (coastal); dark blue-purple is deep sea.
Land is coloured yellow and orange. Image courtesy NOCS.


The images presented below were taken using a digital camera mounted on the ROV Isis during research cruise JC10 aboard RRS James Cook in June-July 2007. All images are copyright NOCS. Click on the images to view a larger version.


Nazare Canyon, 800m water depth
Dumbo Octopus resting on sediment with small rock outcrops nearby
Image: ROV Isis (NOCS JC10 cruise, summer 2007)


Nazare Canyon, 1130m water depth
Gorgonian corals extending out from a solid, vertical rock face
Image: ROV Isis (NOCS JC10 cruise, summer 2007)
Nazare Canyon, 1180m water depth
Brisingella resting on sediment that also shows evidence (in the form of holes) of bioturbation by animals living in the sediment.
Image: ROV Isis (NOCS JC10 cruise, summer 2007)


Nazare Canyon, 1220m water depth
Soft corals extending out from a vertical rock face to capture particles in the water column. The steepness of the rock face can be clearly seen.
Image: ROV Isis (NOCS JC10 cruise, summer 2007)
Nazare Canyon, 1300m water depth
Bright red anemone attached to rock
Image: ROV Isis (NOCS JC10 cruise, summer 2007)

Nazare Canyon, 1300m water depth
Coral and seastars on rocky outcrop, demonstrating a typical filter-feeding community.
Image: ROV Isis (NOCS JC10 cruise, summer 2007)


Nazare Canyon, 1300m water depth
Echinothurid (sea urchin) on rocky outcrop. These types of sea urchin have a shell that is flexible whereas in most sea urchins the shell is rigid.
Image: ROV Isis (NOCS JC10 cruise, summer 2007)


Nazare Canyon, 1440m water depth
Anemone on rocky outcrop. This anemone is hanging down from a small overhang in the rock face.
Image: ROV Isis (NOCS JC10 cruise, summer 2007)

Other photo libraries available:
Irish Margin: Whittard Canyon
Portuguese Margin: Setubal Canyon
Western Mediterranean: Var Canyon
Western Mediterranean: Cap de Creus Canyon
Back to canyons main page



© HERMES 2007