Near-bottom horizontal transfer of particulate matter in the Palamós Submarine Canyon (NW Mediterranean)
Abstract:From March to November 2001, six current meters equipped with turbidimeters were moored 12 meters above the bottom inside the Palamós submarine canyon and on the adjacent slope. Horizontal particle fluxes were calculated from current and suspended sediment concentration data. This work aims to evaluate the advective sediment fluxes taking place in the Palamós canyon region, and to discern the nature and time-scales of the processes involved in the across-margin transfer of particles over the study period. Near-bottom currents inside the canyon were constrained by the local topography and displayed a high spatio-temporal variability. The net near-bottom transport of suspended matter in the canyon was largely driven by sharp increases of sediment load and current speed, most of them attributed to sediment gravity flows. These energetic events dominated over the current-driven sediment transport, which was relatively weak due to periodical up-canyon/downcanyon inversions along the canyon axis, and to complex current patterns and the presence of low sediment loads for most of the time at the other sites. During this 8-month experiment, the mid-canyon (>1200 m depth) acted as a by-pass zone, while at the canyon head, net sediment transport was directed persistently up-canyon. These patterns were further heightened during a major storm in November 2001. However, in this particular submarine canyon, substantial sedimentary activity and offshore export of particulate matter also occur in the absence of significant external forcings (storms, river floods). Human activities (deep trawling) induced sediment gravity flows during the dry and calm season (spring-summer) and enhanced the offshore transfer of particles during this time period.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: March 1, 2007
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