On the upslope sediment transport at continental margins

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Abstract

Using the method of process-oriented hydrodynamic modelling, this work investigates the dispersal of particles in stratified fluids on continental margins. The fundamental principle underlying this work is that particles can be upwelled across isopycnal surfaces, given that turbulent fluctuations do generally not offset the advective displacement of a particle. This principle is validated here with the diapycnal upslope sediment transport in a bottom Ekman layer that forms under a stratified geostrophic slope current. Similarly, this study indicates that the interaction between slope currents with a submarine channel can facilitate a continuous diapycnal upslope flux of particles, confined to the lowermost 10–20 m of the water column. Velocity anomalies that facilitate this upslope sediment flux are the signature of standing topographic Rossby waves that only develop for slope currents that are left-bounded (right-bounded) by shallower water in the northern (southern) hemisphere. Findings of sensitivity studies confirm the existence of up-channel flows for a wide range of parameter values. Under the assumption that particles remain suspended in the water column, the inclusion of gravitational settling significantly increases the up-channel sediment flux. Sediment settling operates to trap particles close to the seafloor within the core of bottom-intensified up-channel flow. The author postulates that this mechanism plays an important role in biogeochemical cycles at continental margins.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103546
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Marine Systems
Volume219
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Hydrodynamic modelling
  • Lagrangian particles
  • Submarine channels
  • Suspended sediment transport
  • Upwelling

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