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Sediment Transport Along the Cap De Creus Canyon Flank During a Mild, Wet Winter : Volume 9, Issue 12 (14/12/2012)

By Martín, J.

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Book Id: WPLBN0003984730
Format Type: PDF Article :
File Size: Pages 42
Reproduction Date: 2015

Title: Sediment Transport Along the Cap De Creus Canyon Flank During a Mild, Wet Winter : Volume 9, Issue 12 (14/12/2012)  
Author: Martín, J.
Volume: Vol. 9, Issue 12
Language: English
Subject: Science, Biogeosciences, Discussions
Collections: Periodicals: Journal and Magazine Collection, Copernicus GmbH
Publication Date:
Publisher: Copernicus Gmbh, Göttingen, Germany
Member Page: Copernicus Publications


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De Madron, X. D., Houpert, L., Canals, M., Palanques, A., Bourrin, F., Calafat, A. M.,...Sanchez-Vidal, A. (2012). Sediment Transport Along the Cap De Creus Canyon Flank During a Mild, Wet Winter : Volume 9, Issue 12 (14/12/2012). Retrieved from

Description: Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC), Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta 37–49, 08003, Barcelona, Spain. Cap de Creus Canyon (CCC) is known as a preferential conduit for particulate matter leaving the Gulf of Lion continental shelf towards the slope and the deep basin, particularly in winter when storms and dense shelf water cascading coalesce to enhance the seaward export of shelf waters.

During the CASCADE (CAscading, Storm, Convection, Advection and Downwelling Events) cruise in March 2011, deployments of recording instruments within the canyon and vertical profiling of the water column properties were conducted to study with high spatial-temporal resolution the impact of such processes on particulate matter fluxes.

In the context of a mild and wet 2010–2011 winter, no remarkable dense shelf water formation was observed. On the other hand, the experimental setup allowed to study the impact of E-SE storms on the hydrographical structure and the particulate matter fluxes in the CCC. The most remarkable feature in terms of sediment transport was a period of dominant E-SE winds from 12 to 16 March, including two moderate storms of significant wave heights = 4–4.5 m. During this period, a plume of freshened, relatively cold and turbid water flowed at high speeds along the southern flank of CCC in an approximate depth range of 150–350 m. The density of this water mass only reached ~ 28.78 kg m−3, indicating that it did not cascade into the canyon and that merely downwelled into it forced by the accumulation of seawater along the coast during the storms and by the subsequent strong cyclonic circulation induced over the shelf. Suspended sediment load in this turbid intrusion was comparable at three heights above bottom where turbidimeters were installed (10, 75 and 115 m above bottom) on the southern canyon flank and oscillated between 10 and 50 mg L−1. Current speeds were also comparable in the depth range profiled by ADCPs (40 to 150 mab) and reached values up to 90 cm s−1 during the peak of the strongest storm (13 March, Hs = 4.5 m).

Sediment transport at 75 mab on the southern canyon flank was estimated at 1–1.5 t m−2 for the entire deployment while very close to the bottom (5 m above) in the canyon head it was less than 0.6 t m−2 during the same period. We provide a rough estimation of 105 t of sediment transported through the canyon along its southern wall during a 3 day-long period of storm-induced downwelling.

Following the veering of the wind direction (from SE to NW) on 16 March, downwelling ceased, currents inside the canyon reversed from down to up-canyon, and the turbid shelf plume was evacuated from the canyon, most probably flowing along the southern canyon flank and being entrained by the general SW circulation after leaving the canyon confinement.

This study highlights that remarkable sediment transport occurs in the CCC, and particularly along its southern flank, even during mild and wet winters, in absence of cascading and under limited external forcing. The sediment transport associated to eastern storms like the ones described in this paper tends to enter the canyon by its downstream flank, partially affecting the canyon head region. Sediment transport during these events is not constrained near the seafloor but distributed in a depth range of 200–300 m above the bottom. Our paper broadens the understanding of the complex set of atmosphere-driven sediment transport processes acting in this highly dynamic area of the northwestern Mediterranean Sea.

Sediment transport along the Cap de Creus Canyon flank during a mild, wet winter

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