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Distribution, composition and flux of particulate material over the European margin at 47 degrees-50 degrees N

McCave, I. N., Hall, Ian Robert ORCID:, Antia, A. N., Chou, L., Dehairs, F., Lampitt, R. S., Thomsen, L., Van Weering, T. C. E. and Wollast, R. 2001. Distribution, composition and flux of particulate material over the European margin at 47 degrees-50 degrees N. Deep-Sea Research. Part II.Topical studies in oceanography 48 (14-15) , pp. 3107-3139. 10.1016/S0967-0645(01)00034-0

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In the framework of the Ocean Margin Exchange project, a multi-disciplinary study has been conducted at the shelf edge and slope of the Goban Spur in order to determine the spatial distribution, quantity and quality of particle flux, and delineate the transport mechanisms of the major organic and inorganic components. We present here a synthesis view of the major transport modes of both biogenic and lithogenic material being delivered to the open slope of the Goban Spur. We attempt to differentiate between the direct biogenic flux from the surface mixed layer and the advective component, both biogenic and lithogenic. Long-term moorings, instrumented with sediment traps, current meters and transmissometers have yielded samples and near-continuous recordings of hydrographic variables (current direction and speed, temperature and salinity) and light transmission for a period of 2.5 years. Numerous stations have been occupied for CTD casts with light transmission and collection of water samples. The sedimenting material has been analysed for a variety of marker compounds including phytoplankton pigments, isotopic, biomineral and trace metal composition and microscopical analyses. These samples are augmented by seasonal information on the distribution and composition of fine particles and marine snow in the water column. The slope shows well-developed bottom nepheloid layers always present and intermediate nepheloid layers intermittently present. Concentrations are mainly in the range 50–130 mg m−3 in nepheloid layers and 6–25 mg m−3 in clear water. A seasonal variability in the concentration at the clear water minimum is argued to be related to seasonal variations in vertical flux and aggregate break-up in transit during summer months. It is suggested that the winter sink for this seasonal change in particulate matter involves some re-aggregation and scavenging, and some conversion of particulate to dissolved organic matter. This may provide a slow seasonal pump of dissolved organic carbon to the deep ocean interior. Differences in trapped quantities at different water depths are interpreted as due to lateral flux from the continental margin. There is a major lateral input between 600 and 1050 m at an inner station and between 600 and 1440 m at an outer one. The transport is thought to be related to intermediate nepheloid layers, but those measured are too dilute to be able to supply the flux. Observed bottom nepheloid layers are highly concentrated very close to the bed (up to 5 g m−3), with a population of large aggregates. Some of these are capable of delivering the flux seen offshore during intermittent detachment of nepheloid layers into mid-water. Concentrated bottom nepheloid layers are also able to deliver large particles with unstable phytoplankton pigments to the deep sea floor in a few tens of days. Calculated CaCO3 fluxes are adjusted for dissolution, which is inferred from Ca/Al ratios to be occurring in the CaCO3-saturated upper water column where up to 80% of the CaCO3 resulting from primary production is dissolved.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GC Oceanography
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0967-0645
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 09:04

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