Rumín-Caparrós Aitor

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  • Article
    Particle fluxes in submarine canyons along a sediment-starved continental margin and in the adjacent open slope and basin in the SW Mediterranean Sea
    (Elsevier, 2022-03-24) Tarrés, Marta ; Cerdà-Domènech, Marc ; Pedrosa-Pamies, Rut ; Rumín-Caparrós, Aitor ; Calafat, Antoni ; Canals, Miquel ; Sanchez-Vidal, Anna
    Investigating the transfer of particulate matter from the continental shelf to the deep basin is critical to understand the functioning of deep sea ecosystems. In this paper we present novel results on the temporal variability of particle fluxes to the deep in three physiographic domains of a 240 km long margin segment and nearby basin off Murcia and Almeria provinces in the SW Mediterranean Sea, which are submarine canyons forming a rather diverse set (namely Escombreras, Garrucha-Almanzora and Almeria), the adjacent open slope and the deep basin. This margin is located off one of the driest regions in Europe and, therefore, its study may help understanding how mainland aridity translates into the export of particles to deep margin environments. Five mooring lines equipped with currentmeters, turbidity-meters and sediment traps were deployed for one entire annual cycle, from March 2015 to March 2016. We combine oceanographic, hydrological and meteorological data with grain size and bulk elemental data (organic carbon, opal, CaCO3, lithogenic) from the collected sinking particles to understand what drives particle transfers in such an under-studied setting, and to quantify the resulting fluxes and assess their spatio-temporal variability. Weighted total mass fluxes in canyons range from 1.64 g m−2 d−1 in Almeria Canyon to 7.33 g m−2 d−1 in Garrucha-Almanzora Canyon system, which are rather low values compared to other submarine canyons in the Western Mediterranean Sea. This results from the absence of extreme wind-storm events during the investigated time period combined with the reduced sediment input to the inner shelf by river systems in the study area. Our results also show that wind-storms are the main trigger for off-shelf particle transport to the deep margin, both within submarine canyons and over the open slope. The most significant transfer period is associated to a set of north-eastern storms in early spring 2015, when the off-shelf transport likely was promoted by storm-induced downwelling. However, the prevailing oceanographic conditions restricts the advection of water down the canyon heads to a few hundred meters, thus promoting a bottom-detached transport of particles seaward. Overall physiography, canyon head incision into the continental shelf and the distance of the canyon head to the shoreline (e.g. very short in Garrucha Canyon) play a key role in particle trapping capability and, therefore, in easing downslope particle transport. Further, bottom trawling activities around the Garrucha-Almanzora Canyon system, feed a nepheloid layer at depths in excess of 400 m, subsequently enhancing particle fluxes throughout the study period. In contrast, maximum particle fluxes in the deep basin respond to seasonal phytoplankton blooms. Our study shows that particle export from the shallow inner margin to the deep outer margin in sediment-starved settings, even if limited, does occur as dominated by atmosphere and ocean driven short-lived events. However, that export does not reach too far as at several tens of kilometres from the shelf edge advective fluxes are replaced by vertical ones impelled by phytoplankton dynamics.