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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00702

Ocean Circulation over North Atlantic underwater features in the path of the Mediterranean Outflow Water: the Ormonde and Formigas seamounts, and the Gazul mud volcano

 Ángela Mosquera Giménez1*,  Pedro Vélez-Belchí1,  Jesús Rivera2,  Safo Piñeiro3, Noelia Fajar4, Verónica Caínzos3,  Rocío Santiago3,  Rosa Balbín3, Juan A. Jiménez Aparicio3 and Alberto Aparicio3
  • 1Centro Oceanográfico de Canarias, Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO), Spain
  • 2Spanish Institute of Oceanography, Oceanographic Center of Vigo, Spain
  • 3Centro Oceanográfico de Baleares, Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Spain
  • 4Oceanographic Center of A Coruña, Spanish Institute of Oceanography, Spain

Seamounts constitute an obstacle to the ocean circulation, modifying it. As a result, a variety of hydrodynamical processes and phenomena may take place over seamounts, among others, flow intensification, current deflection, upwelling, Taylor caps and internal waves. These oceanographic effects may turn seamounts into very productive ecosystems with high species diversity, and in some cases, are densely populated by benthic organisms, such corals, gorgonians and sponges. In this study, we describe the oceanographic conditions over seamounts and other underwater features in the path of the Mediterranean Outflow Water (MOW), where populations of benthic suspensions feeders have been observed. Using CTD, LADPC and biochemical measurements carried out in the Ormonde and Formigas seamounts and the Gazul mud volcano (Northeast Atlantic), we show that Taylor caps were not observed in any of the sampled features. However, we point out that the relatively high values of the Brunt-Väisälä frequency in the MOW halocline, in conjunction with the slope of the seamount flanks, set up conditions for the breakout of internal waves and amplification of the currents. This may enhance the vertical mixing, resuspending the organic material deposited on the seafloor and, therefore, increasing the food availability for the communities dominated by benthic suspension feeders. Thus, we hypothesize that internal waves could be improving the conditions for benthic suspension feeders to grow on the slope of seamounts.

Keywords: seamounts, Mediterranean Outflow Water, Taylor columns/caps, internal waves, Cold-water Corals

Received: 21 Dec 2018; Accepted: 31 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Mosquera Giménez, Vélez-Belchí, Rivera, Piñeiro, Fajar, Caínzos, Santiago, Balbín, Jiménez Aparicio and Aparicio. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Ms. Ángela Mosquera Giménez, Centro Oceanográfico de Canarias, Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO), Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, angela.mosquera@ieo.es