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Free Content Dynamics of temperature and chlorophyll structures above a seamount: An oceanic experiment

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Three hydrographic surveys comprised of densely spaced XBT and CTD stations were conducted over Minami-kasuga Seamount, in the northwest Pacific (21°36′N, 143°38′E). A cold dome, similar to a Taylor column, was observed above the seamount top during the first survey. Uplifted isotherms penetrated to the lower euphotic zone and were associated with higher chlorophyll concentrations. Vertical displacement of uplifted isotherms decayed with elevation above the seamount, so that both temperature and chlorophyll anomalies were undetectable at depths less than 80 m. Relatively high chlorophyll concentrations in a layer from 80 m to 100m depth formed a distinctive deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM) which was less well defined away from the seamount. Calculations based on the observed chlorophyll increase and on estimated phytoplankton growth rate suggested a minimal residence time of the cold dome on the order of several days. Zooplankton densities were also higher over the seamount top, both within and above the cold dome. No cold dome, chlorophyll increase, or high zooplankton biomass were detected above the seamount on the second and third surveys, carried out 2 and 17 days later, respectively. Mixing and deflections of isotherms occurred within a "boundary zone" around the seamount slope during the first and third surveys.

Our observations suggest that seamounts are a source of both biological and physical patchiness in the surrounding ocean as features developed above them are swept away. The importance of the seamount-generated "experiment" is discussed in relation to field studies of the DCM. Specifically, our observations suggest that a sharp chlorophyll maximum can be formed by enhanced in situ growth following a sub-surface upwelling event.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 1985

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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