The temporal evolution of water column turbidity was studied on a submarine canyon on the Barcelona continental margin. From April to June 2014, an instrumented mooring array equipped with an autonomous hydrographic profiler with a CTD and a turbidimeter was deployed in the Foix canyon axis at 870 m depth. The instruments were programmed to collect hydrographic profiles once per day to provide a view of the temporal evolution of water column characteristics from 200 to 800 m water depth. The results illustrate a well-defined water turbidity structure of particulate matter distributed in intermediate nepheloid layers (INLs) developed between 300 and 500 m water depth and above the canyon rims, and INLs and near-bottom nepheloid layers (BNLs) confined inside the canyon between 650 and 800 m water depth. Data from fishing vessels activity at the time of the deployment was obtained from Vessel Monitoring System (VMS). The presence and location of the fishing vessels in the study area suggested a relationship between trawling activity and the generation of such layers. Nepheloid layers were absent during the first part of the deployment, when there was no fishing activity within the Foix Canyon axis or at the adjacent continental slope. Later, with the beginning of trawling activity on the fishing grounds close to the canyon, both INLs and BNLs were observed in the profiling casts, suggesting a causative relationship with fishing activities. Additionally, the hydrodynamic conditions within the canyon also seem to favour particle retention and to increase water turbidity in thick BNLs when water circulation is directed up-canyon. Bottom trawling appears to act as a main sediment resuspension mechanism in the Barcelona continental slope regions, increasing suspended sediment concentration at specific water depths where fishing grounds are located. Suspended particles are then advected and propagate along and across-margin by ambient currents via nepheloid layers
This work has been supported by FORMED (CGL2012-33989) and ABIDES (CTM2015-65142-R) Spanish Projects. M. Arjona-Camas is supported by a predoctoral F.P.I. grant from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness. M. A-C, P. P., A. P. and R. D. belong to CRG on Littoral and Oceanic Processes, supported by Grant 2017 SGR 863 of the Generalitat de Catalunya, and M. E. belongs to CRG on Physical and Technological Oceanography (SGR 1241, 2017 of the Generalitat de Catalunya).
11 pages, 9 figures, 1 table