|Slow persistent mixing in the abyss|In: Ocean Dynamics. Springer-Verlag: Berlin; Heidelberg; New York. ISSN 1616-7341; e-ISSN 1616-7228, meer
Deep-ocean turbulence; Abyssal hills plain; High-resolution temperature observations; Internal wave mixing; Inertial subrange in internal wave band
Knowledge about deep-ocean turbulent mixing and flow circulation above abyssal hilly plains is important to quantify processes for the modeling of resuspension and dispersal of sediments in areas where turbulence sources are expected to be relatively weak. Turbulence may disperse sediments from artificial deep-sea mining activities over large distances. To quantify turbulent mixing above the deep-ocean floor around 4000 m depth, high-resolution moored temperature sensor observations have been obtained from the near-equatorial southeast Pacific (7°S, 88°W). Models demonstrate low activity of equatorial flow dynamics, internal tides and surface near-inertial motions in the area. The present observations demonstrate a conservative temperature difference of about 0.012 °C between 7 and 406 m above the bottom (hereafter, mab, for short), which is a quarter of the adiabatic lapse rate. The very weakly stratified waters with buoyancy periods between about 6 h and 1 day allow for slowly varying mixing. The calculated turbulence dissipation rate values are half to one order of magnitude larger than those from open-ocean turbulent exchange well away from bottom topography and surface boundaries. In the deep, turbulent overturns extend up to 100 m tall, in the ocean interior, and also reach the lowest sensor. The overturns are governed by internal wave-shear and -convection. The turbulence inertial subrange is observed to extend into the internal wave frequency band. The associated mixing is not related to bottom friction processes but to internal wave breaking and near-inertial shear. The mixing facilitates long (hours to day) and high (exceeding 100 mab) dispersal of suspended sediments.