A new pathway for Deep water exchange between the Natal Valley and Mozambique Basin?

Wilfried.Jokat [ at ] awi.de


Although global thermohaline circulation pathways are fairly well known, the same cannot be said for local circulation pathways. Within the southwest Indian Ocean specifically there is little consensus regarding the finer point of thermohaline circulation. We present recently collected multibeam bathymetry and PARASOUND data from the northern Natal Valley and Mozambique Ridge, southwest Indian Ocean. These data show the Ariel Graben, a prominent feature in this region, creates a deep saddle across the Mozambique Ridge at ca. 28°S connecting the northern Natal Valley with the Mozambique Basin. Results show a west to east change in bathymetric and echo character across the northern flank of the Ariel Graben. Whereby eroded plastered sediment drifts in the west give way to aggrading plastered sediment drift in the midgraben, terminating in a field of seafloor undulations in the east. In contrast, the southern flank of the Ariel Graben exhibits an overall rugged character with sediments ponding in bathymetric depressions in between rugged sub/outcrop. It is postulated that this change in seafloor character is the manifestation of deep water flow through the Ariel Graben. Current flow stripping, due to increased curvature of the graben axis, results in preferential deposition of suspended load in an area of limited accommodation space consequently developing an over-steepened plastered drift. These deposited sediments overcome the necessary shear stresses, resulting in soft sediment deformation in the form of down-slope growth faulting (creep) and generation of undulating sea-floor morphology. Contrary to previous views, our works suggests that water flows from west to east across the Mozambique Ridge via the Ariel Graben.

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DOI 10.1007/s00367-014-0383-1

Cite as
Wiles, E. , Green, A. , Watkeys, M. K. , Jokat, W. and Krocker, R. (2014): A new pathway for Deep water exchange between the Natal Valley and Mozambique Basin? , Geo-Marine Letters, 34 (6), pp. 525-540 . doi: 10.1007/s00367-014-0383-1

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