The present authors gained access to unpublished literature and reports which, together with a synthesis of internationally-refereed papers, provide a series of scientific overviews of particular subject areas. Teams of researchers (from Basque Institutes and Universities) combine to present the present 'state of knowledge', within a global context, of processes ranging from sub-seabed to air-sea interaction - incorporating data on the associated biology (including fisheries) and pollutant sources and levels. The latter are compared with regional, national and European legislation. The volume is divided into various sections: Introduction; Geography and Oceanography; Chemical Oceanography and Water Quality; Sediment Characteristics, Quality and Chemistry; Biomonitoring; Communities and Ecology; and Overall Assessment.
The topics covered include: an historical review of marine research; the impact of human activities, during past centuries; geology, geomorphology and sediments; climate and meteorology; marine dynamics; hydrography; water mass characteristics; contaminants in the waters; microbiological quality; sedimentological characteristics; contaminants in sediments; biomonitoring of heavy metals and organic components, at tissue organism level and using cellular and molecular biomarkers; bacterioplankton and phytoplankton communities; zooplankton communities; benthic communities; seabirds; biodiversity and conservation; recovery of benthic communities; the polluted systems; and assessment of human impacts. On the basis of these syntheses, future challenges for marine research in the Basque Country are identified,