A monitoring study of suspended sediment on the South Texas Continental Shelf indicates that a turbid benthic nepheloid layer is regionally persistent. A sequence of quasi-synoptic measurements of the water column obtained during six cruises in an 18-month period indicates substantial spatial and temporal variability in nepheloidlayer characteristics. Regionally, the thickness of the shelf nepheloid layer increases both seaward and in a convergent alongshelf direction. Greatest thicknesses occur over a muddy substrate, indicating a causal relationship; maximum observed local thickness is 35 m which occurs along the southern shelf break. Analyses of suspended particulate matter in shelf bottom waters indicate mean concentrations ranging from 49 ?? 104 to 111 ?? 104 particle counts/cc; concentrations persistently increase shoreward throughout the region. Bottom particulate matter is predominantly composed of inorganic detritus. Admixtures of organic skeletal particles, primarily diatoms, are generally present but average less than 10% of the total particulate composition. Texturally, the particulate matter in bottom waters is predominantly poorly sorted sediment composed of very fine silt (3.9-7.8 ??m). The variability in nepheloid-layer characteristics indicates a highly dynamic shelf feature. The relationship of nepheloid-layer characteristics to hydrographic and substrate conditions suggests a conceptual model whereby nepheloid-layer development and maintenance are the results of the resuspension of sea-floor sediment. Bottom turbulence is attributed primarily to vertical shear and shoaling progressive internal waves generated by migrating shelf-water masses, especially oceanic frontal systems, and secondarily to shoaling surface gravity waves. ?? 1981.
Additional publication details
Development of the benethic nepheloid layer on the south Texas continental shelf, western Gulf of Mexico