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Near-bottom particulate matter dynamics in the Nazare submarine canyon under calm and stormy conditions
Martín, J.; Palanques, A.; Vitorino, J.; Oliveira, A.; de Stigter, H.C. (2011). Near-bottom particulate matter dynamics in the Nazare submarine canyon under calm and stormy conditions. Deep-Sea Res., Part 2, Top. Stud. Oceanogr. 58(23-24): 2388-2400.
In: Deep-Sea Research, Part II. Topical Studies in Oceanography. Pergamon: Oxford. ISSN 0967-0645, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

Author keywords
    Particulate flux; Continental margins; Submarine canyon; NortheastAtlantic; Iberian Margin; Nazare Canyon

Authors  Top 
  • Martín, J.
  • Palanques, A., more
  • Vitorino, J.
  • Oliveira, A.
  • de Stigter, H.C., more

    Two mooring lines equipped with near-bottom sediment traps were deployed in the axis of the Nazare submarine canyon at similar to 1600 and similar to 3300 m depth, respectively. We studied time-series of particle flux, composition (biogenic silica, carbonates, organic matter and lithogenic fractions), granulometry, mineralogy and Pb-210 concentration of particulate matter over five sediment trap deployments between October 2002 and December 2004. Current meters equipped with turbidimeters were also deployed at trap depths to monitor the water flow, temperature, salinity and suspended particle concentration. The composition of the collected particles was fairly constant year-round, dominated by the lithogenic fraction and with OC/N ratios in the range 11-21, suggesting an important terrigenous influence inside the canyon. The results show contrasting dynamic environments in the upper (1600 m depth) and middle (3300 m depth) canyon. High current speeds (spring tides up to 80 cm s(-1)) and high apparent mass fluxes of particulate matter (mean 65 g m(-2) d(-1); maximum 265 g m(-2) d(-1)) are permanent at the shallowest station. At the deepest site, fluxes were below 10 g m(-2) d(-1) most of the time and the annual flux was governed by events of sharp flux increase. Storms affecting the continental shelf during autumn and winter are a major driver of down-canyon dispersal of sediments to the middle canyon and beyond. Important nepheloid activity developed inside the canyon in response to storms with significant wave heights between 4 and 6 m, as testified by turbidimeters deployed in midwater and near the seabed at 1600 m water depth. On three occasions during the study period, significant wave heights of incident storms surpassed 7 m, leading to notable episodes of down-canyon transport that were clearly observed in the middle canyon. During one of these stormy periods (January 2003) a sediment gravity flow transporting unusual quantities of sand and coastal plant debris was observed at 3200 m. However, a storm with significant wave heights as low as 5 m was apparently able to trigger a sediment gravity flow reaching beyond the middle canyon. The role of storms in the offshore dispersal of sediments is clearly relevant but seems to be modulated by synergic factors such as river flooding.

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