The importance of tides for sediment dynamics in the deep sea-Evidence from the particulate-matter tracer Th-234 in deep-sea environments with different tidal forcing

Florian Peine, Robert Turnewitsch, Christian Mohn, Theresa Reichelt, Barbara M Springer, Manfred Kaufmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Key aspects of deep-ocean fluid dynamics such as basin-scale (residual) and tidal flow are believed to have changed over glacial/interglacial cycles, with potential relevance for climatic change. To constrain the mechanistic links, magnitudes and temporal succession of events analyses of sedimentary paleo-records are of great importance. Efforts have been underway for some time to reconstruct residual-flow patterns from sedimentary records. Attempts to reconstruct tidal flow characteristics from deep-sea sediment deposits, however, are at a very early stage and first require a better understanding of the reflection of modern tides in sediment dynamics. In this context internal (baroclinic) tides, which are formed by the surface (barotropic) tide interacting with seafloor obstacles, are believed to play a particularly important role. Here we compare two modern deep-sea environments with respect to the effect of tides on sediment dynamics. Both environments are influenced by kilometre-scale topographic features but with vastly different tidal forcing: (1) two sites in the Northeast Atlantic (NEA) being surrounded by, or located downstream of, fields of short seamounts (maximum barotropic tidal current velocities similar to 5cm s(-1)); and (2) a site next to the Anaximenes seamount in the Eastern Mediterranean (EMed) (maximum barotropic tidal current velocities similar to 0.5 cm s(-1)). With respect to other key fluid-dynamical parameters both environments are very similar. Signals of sedimentary particle dynamics, as influenced by processes taking place in the bottom boundary layer, were traced by the vertical water-column distribution of radioactive disequilibria (daughter/parent activity ratios not equal 1) between the naturally occurring, short-lived (half-life: 24.1 d) particulate-matter tracer Th-234 relative to its very long-lived and non-particle-reactive parent nuclide U-238. Activity ratios of Th-234/U-2381). The results of this study, therefore, add to the evidence suggesting that tides in the deep sea of the open oceans are more important for sediment dynamics than previously thought. It is hypothesised that (a) tide/seamount interactions in the deep open ocean control the local distribution of erosivity proxies (e.g. , distributions of sediment grain sizes, heavy minerals and particle-reactive radionuclides) in sedimentary deposits and (b) the aforementioned topographically controlled sedimentary imprints of (internal) tides are useful in the reconstruction of past changs of tidal forcing in the deep sea. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1182-1202
Number of pages21
JournalDEEP-SEA RES PT I
Volume56
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Keywords

  • ORGANIC-CARBON
  • LAST GLACIAL MAXIMUM
  • WATER
  • NEPHELOID LAYER
  • RESUSPENSION
  • INTERNAL TIDES
  • Oceanography
  • CIRCULATION
  • OCEAN
  • MUD VOLCANOS
  • NORTHEAST ATLANTIC

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