Sediments in Bottom-Arrested Gravity Plumes: Numerical Case Studies

Fohrmann, Hermann, Backhaus, Jan O., Blaume, Frank and Rumohr, Jan (1998) Sediments in Bottom-Arrested Gravity Plumes: Numerical Case Studies Journal of Physical Oceanography, 28 (11). pp. 2250-2274. DOI 10.1175/1520-0485(1998)028<2250:SIBAGP>2.0.CO;2.

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In the present paper a hydrostatic “reduced gravity” model, generally used to simulate transient bottom-arrested gravity plumes, was coupled with a sediment transport model. The coupled model considers the respective contribution of suspended sediment particles on the buoyancy of a plume and allows one to simulate autosuspension and size-differential deposition of sediments based on the local turbulence and settling velocities. Simulations using the coupled model reveal that sediment-enriched plumes are able to inject both entrained and original shelf water masses into intermediate and bottom layers of an adjacent ocean basin in an ageostrophic dynamical balance. Hence the mechanism described here is more rapid than classic, “seawater” plumes, which are solely driven by surplus density of the water masses. Results suggest that “turbidity” plumes may constitute an important process in the formation and renewal of deep waters in the Arctic Ocean. In case a turbidity plume reaches its level of equilibrium density, deposition of suspended particles causes the density of the interstitial fluid to be lower than the density of the ambient fluid. This initiates upward convection within the water column.

The substantial difference between TS- and turbidity plumes is described by model experiments that utilize idealized slope and sediment distributions. A realistic simulation of a turbidity plume cascading down the continental slope of the western Barents Sea is presented. The computed distribution of deposited sediments agrees well with observations in an area of high accumulation of shelf-derived sediments. The frequency of occurrence of sediment-enriched gravity plumes originating from the Barents Sea shelf is estimated from the various geological variables (thickness of sediments at the bottom, grain size composition) measured from bottom sediments samples.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Bottom-Arrested Gravity Plumes
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-P-OZ Paleo-Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1175/1520-0485(1998)028<2250:SIBAGP>2.0.CO;2
ISSN: 0022-3670
Projects: SFB313
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2016 13:05
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2016 13:05

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