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Sediment and organic carbon transport and deposition driven by internal tides along Monterey Canyon, offshore California

September 17, 2019

Submarine canyons provide globally important conduits for sediment and organic carbon transport into the deep-sea. Using a novel dataset from Monterey Canyon, offshore central California, that includes an extensive array of water column sampling devices, we address how fine-grained sediment and organic carbon are transported, mixed, fractionated, and buried along a submarine canyon. Anderson-type sediment traps were deployed 10 to 300 meters above the seafloor on moorings anchored between 278–1849 m water depths along the axial channel of Monterey Canyon during three consecutive 6-month deployments (2015–2017). Tidal currents within the canyon suspended and transported fine-grained sediment and organic carbon that were captured in sediment traps, which show apparent patterns and composition of sediment and organic carbon transport along the canyon. High sediment accumulation rates in traps increased up-canyon and near the seafloor with fine-scale (<1 cm) layering that was increasingly distinctive in CT scans. There was no along-canyon trend in the organic carbon composition (percent modern carbon and isotopic signatures) among trap locations, suggesting mixing. Organic carbon content (weight percent total organic carbon) and excess 210Pb activities (dpm/g) increased down-canyon, reflecting reduced flux of sediment and organic carbon into traps. Differing organic carbon signatures in traps compared with previous measurements of seabed deposits along Monterey Canyon suggest that canyon deposits may not reflect organic carbon available to organisms and transported through the canyon with internal tides. Organic carbon burial efficiency estimates from comparing core and trap samples are low (~26% or much less), suggesting that the modern upper Monterey Canyon may not be an effective sink for carbon in biogeochemical and CO2 cycling. Organic carbon isotopic signatures appear more marine in traps that sample from the water column than in cores that sample seafloor deposits, likely owing to the influence of sediment density flow events on deposits and preferential consumption of relatively fresh marine organic carbon on the seafloor that was largely prevented in preserved traps. Along-canyon sediment and organic carbon transport by internal tides likely occurs in many modern global submarine canyons, but canyon deposits and remaining organic carbon appear to preferentially reflect episodic sediment density flow events unrelated to internal tides. This study provides a quantified example and conceptual schematic for internal-tide-related sediment and organic carbon transport, mixing, and burial trends along a submarine canyon that are likely to have common global aspects.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Sediment and organic carbon transport and deposition driven by internal tides along Monterey Canyon, offshore California
DOI 10.1016/j.dsr.2019.103108
Authors Katherine L. Maier, Kurt J. Rosenberger, Charles K. Paull, Roberto Gwiazda, Jenny Gales, Thomas Lorenson, James P. Barry, Peter J. Talling, Mary McGann, Jingping Xu, Eve M. Lundsten, Krystle Anderson, Steven Litvin, Daniel Parsons, Michael Clare, Stephen Simmons, Esther J. Sumner, Matthieu J.B. Cartigny
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers
Index ID 70205389
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center