The marine environment of the Gulf of Mexico is sensitive to both oceanographic and climatic processes, and a better understanding of how seawater properties in the gulf vary can provide valuable insight into the nature of these processes. During the period of 2004 through 2006, seawater
samples were collected along the Texas-Louisiana continental shelf near the Mississippi and Atchafalaya River deltas and at the Flower Garden Banks near the continental shelf/slope boundary. The salinity and oxygen isotope values of these waters samples were measured. Samples from the Flower
Garden Banks established that the typical salinity and δ18O values of open-ocean waters in the Gulf of Mexico are 36.1 and 1.1‰, respectively. The salinity-δ18O relationships of waters on the shelf varied temporally and spatially due to changes in the
relative contributions of fresh waters entering the gulf from riverine sources. This improved understanding of the composition and relative contributions of the shelf-water end members in the northern Gulf of Mexico will contribute to our ability to quantify shelf circulation, biogeochemical
processes such as hypoxia, and the history of climate in this important region.
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