Particle fluxes dynamics in Blanes submarine canyon (Northwestern Mediterranean)

Diana Zúñiga, M. Mar Flexas, Anna Sanchez-Vidal, Johan Coenjaerts, Antoni Calafat, Gabriel Jordà, Jordi García-Orellana, Joan Puigdefàbregas, Miquel Canals, Manuel Espino, Francesc Sardà, Joan B. Company

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71 Citations (Scopus)


Within the framework of the multidisciplinary RECS project and with the aim of describing the particle flux transfer from the continental shelf to the deep basin, an array of five mooring lines equipped with a total of five pairs of PPS3/3 sequential-sampling sediment traps and RCM-7/8 current meters were deployed 30 m above the bottom from March 2003 to March 2004 inside and outside the Blanes Canyon. One mooring line was located in the upper canyon at 600 m depth, one in the canyon axis at 1700 m depth and other two close to the canyon walls at 900 m depth. A fifth mooring line was deployed in the continental open slope at 1500 m water depth. The highest near-bottom downward particle flux (14.50 g m-2 d-1) was recorded at the trap located in the upper canyon (M1), where continental inputs associated with the presence of the Tordera River are most relevant. On the other hand, the downward fluxes (4.35 g m-2 d-1) in the canyon axis (M2) were of the same order as those found in the western flank (M3) of the canyon. Both values were clearly higher than the value (1.95 g m-2 d-1) recorded at the eastern canyon wall (M4). The open slope (M5) mass flux (5.42 mg m-2 d-1) recorded by the sediment trap located outside the canyon system was three orders of magnitude lower than the other values registered by the inner canyon stations. The relevance of our data is that it explains how the transport pathway in the canyon occurs through its western flank, where a more active and persistent current toward the open ocean was recorded over the entire year of the experiment. Off-shelf sediment transport along the canyon axis showed clear differences during the period of the study, with some important events leading to strong intensifications of the current coupled with large transport of particle fluxes to the deepest parts of the canyon. Such events are primarily related to increases in river discharge and the occurrence of strong storms and cascading events during the winter. In summary, in this study it is shown that the dynamics of the water masses and the currents in the study area convert the sharp western flank of the Blanes Canyon in a more active region that favors erosion processes than the eastern flank, which has a smoother topography and where the absence of erosional conditions yields to steadier sedimentary processes. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-251
JournalProgress in Oceanography
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


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