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General patterns of circulation, sediment fluxes and ecology of the Palamós (La Fonera) submarine canyon, northwestern Mediterranean

AuthorsPalanques, Albert ; García-Ladona, Emilio ; Gomis, Damià ; Martín, Jacobo ; Marcos, Marta ; Pascual, Ananda ; Puig, Pere ; Gili, Josep Maria ; Emelianov, Mikhail ; Monserrat, Sebastià ; Guillén, Jorge ; Tintoré, Joaquín ; Segura i Noguera, María del Mar ; Jordi, Antoni ; Ruiz, Simón ; Basterretxea, Gotzon ; Font, Jordi ; Blasco, Dolors ; Pagès, Francesc
Issue Date2005
PublisherPergamon Press
CitationProgress in Oceanography 66: 89-119 (2005)
AbstractCurrents, particle fluxes and ecology were studied in the Palamós submarine canyon (also known as the Fonera canyon), located in the northwestern Mediterranean. Seven mooring arrays equipped with current meters and sediment traps were deployed along the main canyon axis, on the canyon walls and on the adjacent slope. Additionally, local and regional hydrographic cruises were carried out. Current data showed that mean near surface and mid-depth currents were oriented along the mean flow direction (NE-SW), although at 400 and 1200 m depth within the canyon current reversals were significant, indicating a more closed circulation inside the canyon. Mean near-bottom currents were constrained by the local bathymetry, especially at the canyon head. The most significant frequency at all levels was the inertial frequency. A second frequency of about three days, attributed to a topographic wave, was observed at all depths, suggesting that this wave was probably not trapped near the bottom. The current field observed during the most complete survey revealed a meandering pattern with cyclonic vorticity just upstream from and within the canyon. The associated vertical velocity ranged between 10 and 20 m/day and was constrained to the upper 300 m. This latter feature, together with other computations, suggests that during this survey the meander was not induced by the canyon but by some kind of instability of the mean flow. In the canyon, suspended sediment concentration, downward particle fluxes, chlorophyll and particulate C and N were significantly higher up-canyon from about 1200 m depth than offshore, defining, along with the different hydrodynamics, two canyon domains: one from the canyon head to about 1200 m depth more affected by the canyon confinement and the other deeper than 1200 m depth more controlled by the mean flow and the shelf-slope front. The higher near-bottom downward total mass fluxes were recorded in the canyon axis at 1200 m depth along with sharp turbidity increases and are related to sediment gravity flows. During the deployment period, the increase in downward particle fluxes occurred by mid-November, when a severe storm took place. On the canyon walls at 1200 m depth, suspended sediment concentrations, downward particle fluxes, chlorophyll and particulate C and N were higher on the southern wall than on the northern wall inversely to the current's energy. This could be caused by an upward water supply on the southern canyon wall and/or the mean flow interacting with the canyon bathymetry. In the swimmers collected by the sediment traps, the dominant species was an elasipod holothurian, which has not been recorded in other canyons or elsewhere in the Mediterranean, indicating particular speciation. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2004.07.016
Identifiersissn: 0079-6611
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