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Authors: Patara, L.* 
Pinardi, N.* 
Corselli, C.* 
Malinverno, E.* 
Tonani, M.* 
Santoleri, R.* 
Masina, S.* 
Title: Particle fluxes in the deep Eastern Mediterranean basins: the role of ocean vertical velocities
Issue Date: 2009
Series/Report no.: /6(2009)
Keywords: particle fluxes
ocean vertical velocities
Subject Classification03. Hydrosphere::03.04. Chemical and biological::03.04.01. Biogeochemical cycles 
Abstract: This paper analyzes the relationship between deep sedimentary fluxes and ocean current vertical velocities in an offshore area of the Ionian Sea, the deepest basin of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Sediment trap data are collected at 500m and 2800m depth in two successive moorings covering the period September 1999–May 2001. A tight coupling is observed between the upper and deep traps and the estimated particle sinking rates are more than 200mday−1. The current vertical velocity field is computed from a 1/16 ×1/16 Ocean General Circulation Model simulation and from the wind stress curl. Current vertical velocities are larger and more variable than Ekman vertical velocities, yet the general patterns are alike. Current vertical velocities are generally smaller than 1mday−1: we therefore exclude a direct effect of downward velocities in determining high sedimentation rates. However we find that upward velocities in the subsurface layers of the water column are positively correlated with deep particle fluxes. We thus hypothesize that upwelling would produce an increase in upper ocean nutrient levels – thus stimulating primary production and grazing – a few weeks before an enhanced vertical flux is found in the sediment traps. High particle sedimentation rates may be attained by means of rapidly sinking fecal pellets produced by gelatinous macro-zooplankton. Other sedimentation mechanisms, such as dust deposition, are also considered in explaining large pulses of deep particle fluxes. The fast sinking rates estimated in this study might be an evi- Correspondence to: L. Patara ( dence of the efficiency of the biological pump in sequestering organic carbon from the surface layers of the deep Eastern Mediterranean basins.
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