Suspended particulate loads and transports in the nepheloid layer of the abyssal Atlantic Ocean

Marine Geology



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Vertical profiles of light scattering from over 1000 L-DGO nephelometer stations in the Atlantic Ocean have been used to calculate mass concentrations of suspended particles based on a calibration from the western North American Basin. From these data are plotted the distributions of particulate concentrations at clear water and in the more turbid near-bottom water. Clear water is the broad minimum in concentration and light scattering that occurs at varying mid-depths in the water column. Concentrations at clear water are as much as one-to-two orders of magnitude lower than those in surface water but still reflect a similar geographic distribution: relatively higher concentrations at ocean margins, especially underneath upwelling areas, and the lowest concentrations underneath central gyre areas. These distributions within the clear water reflect surface-water biogenic productivity, lateral injection of particles from shelf areas and surface circulation patterns and require that the combination of downward vertical and horizontal transport processes of particles retain this pattern throughout the upper water column. Below clear water, the distribution of standing crops of suspended particulate concentrations in the lower water column are presented. The integration of mass of all particles per unit area (gross particulate standing crop) reflects a relative distribution similar to that at the surface and at clear water levels, superimposed on which is the strong imprint of boundary currents along the western margins of the Atlantic. Reducing the gross particulate standing crop by the integral of the concentration of clear water yields a net particulate standing crop. The distribution of this reflects primarily the interaction of circulating abyssal waters with the ocean bottom, i.e. a strong nepheloid layer which is coincident with western boundary currents and which diminishes in intensity equatorward. The resuspended particulate loads in the nepheloid layer of the basins west of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, resulting from interaction of abyssal currents with the bottom, range from ??? 2 ?? 106 tons in the equatorial Guyana Basin to ??? 50 ?? 106 tons in the North American Basin. The total resuspended particulate load in the western basins (111 ?? 106 tons) is almost an order of magnitude greater than that in the basins east of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (13 ?? 106 tons). The net northward flux of resuspended particles carried in the AABW drops from ??? 8 ?? 106 tons/year between the southern and northern ends of the Brazil Basin and remains ??? 1 ?? 106 tons/year across the Guyana Basin. ?? 1977.

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Suspended particulate loads and transports in the nepheloid layer of the abyssal Atlantic Ocean
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Marine Geology
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Marine Geology
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