Cross-Shelf Sediment Transport by an Anticyclonic Eddy Off Northern California

Science  17 Sep 1993:
Vol. 261, Issue 5128, pp. 1560-1564
DOI: 10.1126/science.261.5128.1560


A combination of satellite imagery, shipboard profiles, drifter tracks, and moored current observations reveals that an anticyclonic eddy off the coast of northern California transported plumes of suspended sediments from the continental shelf into the deep ocean. The horizontal scale of the eddy was about 90 kilometers, and the eddy remained over the continental shelf and slope for about 2 months during the summer of 1988. The total mass of sediments transported by the eddy was of order 105 metric tons. Mesoscale eddies are recurrent features in this region and occur frequently in eastern boundary currents. These results provide direct evidence that eddies export sediments from continental shelves.