Letter | Published:

Vertical open burrows in deep-sea sediments 2 m in length

Nature volume 301, pages 329331 (27 January 1983) | Download Citation



Previous studies of the mixed layer, in deep-sea sediments suggest a maximum burrowing depth of about 10–30 cm (ref. 1). However, we now report that two recently obtained cores from the north-east Atlantic (S126/2 and S126/4) display open burrows to a depth of 214 cm within a distal pelagic turbidite. An organic lining in one of the burrows indicates a modern origin. Many of the burrows are less than 0.5 mm across and are only visible on fractured surfaces. Their effects on sediment mixing are probably minimal, but they provide a network of open vertical channels which considerably increases the permeability. This is of crucial importance to studies involving pore water movement, such as those associated with the radioactive waste disposal project. The effect of the burrows changes the calculated permeability from the equivalent of a clay to that of a coarse sand. The delicate structure of the burrows may result in their closure during handling, thus requiring their effect on pore water fluxes to be studied in situ.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    , , & in The Fate of Fossil Fuel CO2 in the Oceans (eds Anderson, N. R. & Malahoff, A.) (Plenum, New York, 1977).

  2. 2.

    Meyniana 13, 1–7 (1963).

  3. 3.

    , & Mar. Geol. 32, 205–230 (1979).

  4. 4.

    Kansas Paleontol. Article 53 (1970).

  5. 5.

    in Deep Sea Sediments, Physical and Mechanical Properties (ed. Inderbitzen, A. L.) (Plenum, New York, 1974).

  6. 6.

    & Deep-Sea Res. 27A, 197–202 (1980).

  7. 7.

    Meteor Forsch-Ergebneisse C No. 34, 1–47 (1981).

  8. 8.

    Adv. Geophys. 22, 238–250 (1980).

  9. 9.

    , , & Geophys. Res. 86, 1813–1827 (1981).

Download references

Author information


  1. Institute of Oceanographic Sciences, Brook Road, Wormley, Godalming, Surrey GU8 5UB, UK

    • P. P. E. Weaver
    •  & P. J. Schultheiss


  1. Search for P. P. E. Weaver in:

  2. Search for P. J. Schultheiss in:

About this article

Publication history






Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.