Spatial inhomogeneities in the sedimentation of biogenic particles in ocean flows: analysis in the Benguela region

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Sedimentation of particles in the ocean leads to inhomogeneous horizontal distributions at depth, even if the release process is homogeneous. We study this phenomenon considering a horizontal sheet of falling particles immersed in an oceanic flow, and determine how they spatially distribute when the particles sediment on the seabed (or are collected at a layer at a given depth). This is performed from a Lagrangian viewpoint attending to the oceanic flow properties and the physical characteristics (size and density) of typical biogenic sinking particles. Two main processes determine the distribution, the stretching of the sheet caused by the flow and its projection on the surface where particles accumulate. These mechanisms are checked, besides an analysis of their relative importance to produce inhomogeneities, with numerical experiments in the Benguela region. Faster (heavier or larger) sinking particles distribute more homogeneously than slower ones.

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Emilio Hernández-García
971 17 13 07
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