Scales of seafloor sediment resuspension in the northern Gulf of Mexico Academic Article uri icon


  • Seafloor sediment resuspension events of different scales and magnitudes and the resulting deep (<1,000 m) benthic nepheloid layers were investigated in the northern Gulf of Mexico during Fall 2012 to Summer 2013. Time-series data of size-specific in-situ settling speeds of marine snow in the benthic nepheloid layer (moored flux cameras), particle size distributions (profiling camera), currents (various current meters) and stacked time-series flux data (sediment traps) were combined to recognize resuspension events ranging from small-scale local, to small-scale far-field to hurricane-scale. One small-scale local resuspension event caused by inertial currents was identified based on local high current speeds (<10 cm s1) and trap data. Low POC content combined with high lithogenic silica flux at 30 m above bottom (mab) compared to the flux at 120 mab, suggested local resuspension reaching 30 mab, but not 120 mab. Another similar event was detected by the changes in particle size distribution and settling speeds of particles in the benthic nepheloid layer. Flux data indicated two other small-scale events, which occurred at some distance, rather than locally. Inertia-driven resuspension of material in shallower areas surrounding the traps presumably transported this material downslope leaving a resuspension signal at 120 mab, but not at 30 mab. The passage of hurricane Isaac left a larger scale resuspension event that lasted a few days and was recorded in both traps. Although hurricanes cause large-scale events readily observable in sediment trap samples, resuspension events small in temporal and spatial scale are not easily recognizable in trapped material as they tend to provide less material and become part of the background signal in the long-term averaged trap samples. We suggest that these small-scale resuspension events, mostly unnoticed in conventional time-series sampling, play an important role in the redistribution and ultimate fate of sediment distribution on the seafloor.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 5

author list (cited authors)

  • Diercks, A., Dike, C., Asper, V. L., DiMarco, S. F., Chanton, J. P., & Passow, U.

citation count

  • 37

complete list of authors

  • Diercks, Arne-R||Dike, Clayton||Asper, Vernon L||DiMarco, Steven F||Chanton, Jeffrey P||Passow, Uta

editor list (cited editors)

  • Deming, J. W., & Thomsen, L.

publication date

  • January 2018