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Research Technical Report

Distribution And Transport Of Suspended Particulate Matter In Monterey Canyon, California

Xu, J.P., M. Noble, S.L. Eittreim, L.K. Rosenfeld, F.B. Schwing, and C.H. Pilskaln (2002)

Marine Geology 181:215-234.


From August 1993 to August 1994, six moorings that measure current, temperature, salinity, and water clarity were deployed along the axis of Monterey Canyon to study the circulation and transport of water suspended particulate matter through the canyon system. The moorings occupied three sites that are morphologically different: a narrow transverse section (axis width 900 m) at 1450m water depth, a wide transverse section at 2837 m, and a third site in the fan valley axis farther offshore at 3223 m that recorded for 3 yr. In addition, CTD/transmissometer casts were conducted within and near the Monterey Canyon during four cruises. Our data show a mainly biogenic, surface turbid layer within the canyon at a water depth of about 1500 m. Tidal flow dominates at all sites, but currents above the canyon rim and within the canyon appear to belong to two distinct dynamic systems. Bottom intensification of currents plays an important role in raising the near-bottom shear stress high enough that bottom sediments are often, if not always, resuspended. Mean flow pattern suggests a convergence zone between the narrow and wide site: the near-bed (100 m above bottom where the lowest current meter was located) mean transport is down-canyon at the 1450-m site, while the near-bottom transport at the 2837-m site is up-canyon, at a smaller magnitude. Transport at the 3223-m site is dominantly NNW, cross-canyon, with periods of up-canyon flow over 3 yr. A very high-turbidity event was recorded 100 m above the canyon bottom at the narrow site. The event started very abruptly and lasted more than a week. This event was not detected at either of the deeper sites. A canyon head flushing event is likely the cause.

Reviewed: April 11, 2024
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