Downward particle fluxes in the Guadiaro submarine canyon depositional system (north-western Alboran Sea), a river flood dominated system

Albert Palanques, Mohamed El Khatab, Pere Puig, Pere Masqué, Joan Albert Sánchez-Cabeza, Enrique Isla

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Three moorings equipped with sediment traps were deployed in the north-western Alboran continental margin to study downward particle fluxes in the Guadiaro submarine canyon depositional system. This area is located close to the Strait of Gibraltar and is influenced by the upwelling induced by the Atlantic Jet and by episodic flood events from the Guadiaro River. Sediment traps were installed in the Guadiaro Canyon, in the Guadiaro Channel and in the adjacent continental slope. The overall duration of the deployment was 12 months (from November 1997 to October 1998). Time-series of downward particle fluxes, major constituents (organic carbon, nitrogen, biogenic opal, calcium carbonate and lithogenics) and 210Pb were determined near the surface at mid-depths and near the bottom. Total mass fluxes (TMF) in this area fluctuated more than two orders of magnitude and showed an important seasonal variability with higher fluxes in winter. Increases in TMF and lithogenics together with decreases in 210Pb, organic carbon and opal were recorded in all traps coinciding with river floods, indicating a direct response of the system to these events and a rapid offshore transport of suspended matter affecting the entire water column. The channel site received similar particle fluxes to the western open slope site, indicating that this channel did not act as a preferential sediment conduit during the deployment period. In the Guadiaro Canyon, TMF were more than one order of magnitude higher, 210Pb concentration was lower (one half) and organic matter was more degraded than at the channel site during spring and summer, as a consequence of receiving particles resuspended by internal waves and occasionally by trawling activities. These particles were mainly retained in the canyon, which works as a trap. Also, during spring and summer, the opal and organic carbon percentages increased in all traps both in magnitude and variability, and peaks seem to be associated with biological blooms. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-40
JournalMarine Geology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2005


  • Alboran Sea
  • Downward particle fluxes
  • Sedimentary processes
  • Submarine canyon


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