Deep western boundary current dynamics and associated sedimentation on the Eirik Drift, Southern Greenland Margin

TitleDeep western boundary current dynamics and associated sedimentation on the Eirik Drift, Southern Greenland Margin
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsHunter, S, Wilkinson, D, Louarn, E, I. McCave, N, Rohling, E, Stow, DAV, Bacon, S
JournalDeep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers
ISBN Number0967-0637
KeywordsDeep western boundary current, Eirik Drift, Hydrography, Sedimentation

Growing interest in the dynamics and temporal variability of the deep western boundary current (DWBC) in the northern North Atlantic has led to numerous studies of the modern hydrography and palaeoceanography of this current system. The DWBC is fed by the two dense water-masses that spill over the Greenland–Iceland–Scotland Ridge; Denmark Strait Overflow Water (DSOW) and Iceland Scotland Overflow Water (ISOW). These overflows entrain ambient water masses, primarily Labrador Sea Water (LSW), as they cross the Iceland and Irminger Basins before merging in the vicinity of south-east Greenland. A number of studies have been performed around the Eirik Drift, located off the southern Greenland margin, downstream of this main merging point. However, the relationship between the DWBC and the associated sedimentation at this location has yet to be fully elucidated. New hydrographic data show that the currents main sediment load is carried by only one of its components, the DSOW. Seismic surveys and sediment cores confirm that Holocene sedimentation is limited to areas underlying the most offshore part of the current, where the hydrographic data show the highest concentration of DSOW. Active sedimentation through the Holocene therefore appears to have been controlled by proximity to the sediment-laden DSOW.Our interpretation of new and historic geostrophic transport and tracer data from transects around the southern Greenland margin also suggests that the DWBC undergoes significant growth through entrainment as it flows around the Eirik Drift. We attribute this to multiple strands of ISOW following different depth-dependent pathways between exiting the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone and joining the DWBC. Comparison of our new data with other modern hydrographic datasets reveals significant temporal variability in the DWBC, associated with variations in the position, structure and age since ventilation of the current in the vicinity of Eirik Drift. The complexity of the current dynamics in this area has implications for the interpretation of hydrographic and palaeoceanographic data.