JMEE Home • Issue ContentsForthcoming Papers

The Interaction Between Internal Solitary Waves and Submarine Canyons
Zhuangcai Tian, Jinjian Huang, Lei Song, Mingwei Zhang, Yonggang Jia and Jianhua Yue

Internal solitary waves (ISWs) occur in stratified seawater and are characterized by substantial amplitudes and short periods. ISWs engender significant interactions between seawater and seafloor topography. They resuspend seabed sediments in various ways, and the submarine canyon acts as a main channel for transporting the suspended sediments from the shallow sea to the deep sea. Among the seas worldwide where ISWs are prevalent, the South China Sea exhibits the largest amplitude of ISWs, and the ISWs directly interact with the seafloor topography near the Dongsha area in the northern South China Sea. Through the analysis of the water profile and high-resolution multi-beam detection data in the vicinity of the Dongsha area, it was found that the submarine canyon exerts a great impact on the sediment resuspension and the bottom nepheloid layer formation induced by ISWs. The observation results show that the concentration of suspended particulate matter within the submarine canyon is remarkably higher than that outside the canyon. The concentration at the bottom of the canyon can reach twice that of the outside regions, forming a vast bottom nepheloid layer. In addition, with the presence of the submarine canyon, the suspended matter carried by the ISWs accumulates in the water column above the canyon, leading to a higher concentration above the canyon. This study deepens the understanding of the effect of ISWs on sediment resuspension in submarine canyons.

Keywords: Internal waves; Seabed; Canyon; Sediment; Resuspension