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Free Content Convective mixing by internal waves in the Puerto Rico Trench

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A 2.4 km long deep-sea mooring was deployed for 14 months in the Puerto Rico Trench, the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean. Below its top buoyancy package, the mooring line held a 200 m long string of high-resolution temperature sensors and a current meter. Over the instrumented range between 6,004 and 6,204 m, waters are very weakly stratified, with local buoyancy frequency equaling about 1.9 times the semidiurnal tidal frequency. Besides quiescent waters, the detailed observations show regular vertical turbulent overturning associated with periodic warming and driven by internal tidal and inertial waves. During such episodes, the 4-day and 200 m vertically averaged dissipation rate increases from approximately 10–11 up to 10–9 m2 s–3, and eddy diffusivity increases from 5 × 10–5 up to 4 × 10–3 m2 s–1. No large-scale shear-driven Kelvin-Helmholtz billows are observed, and free convection seems the dominant primary turbulent overturning mechanism affecting material redistribution and life in the weakly stratified environment.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2016

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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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