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Near-bottom circulation and dispersion of sediment containing Alexandrium fundyense cysts in the Gulf of Maine during 2010-2011

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The life cycle of Alexandrium fundyense in the Gulf of Maine includes a dormant cyst stage that spends the winter predominantly in the bottom sediment. Wave-current bottom stress caused by storms and tides induces resuspension of cyst-containing sediment during winter and spring. Resuspended sediment could be transported by water flow to different locations in the Gulf and the redistribution of sediment containing A. fundyense cysts could alter the spatial and temporal manifestation of its spring bloom. The present study evaluates model near-bottom flow during storms, when sediment resuspension and redistribution are most likely to occur, between October and May when A. fundyense cells are predominantly in cyst form. Simulated water column sediment (mud) concentrations from representative locations of the Gulf are used to initialize particle tracking simulations for the period October 2010-May 2011. Particles are tracked in full three-dimensional model solutions including a sinking velocity characteristic of cyst and aggregated mud settling (0.1mms-1). Although most of the material was redeposited near the source areas, small percentages of total resuspended sediment from some locations in the western (~4%) and eastern (2%) Maine shelf and the Bay of Fundy (1%) traveled distances longer than 100km before resettling. The redistribution changed seasonally and was sensitive to the prescribed sinking rate. Estimates of the amount of cysts redistributed with the sediment were small compared to the inventory of cysts in the upper few centimeters of sediment but could potentially have more relevance immediately after deposition. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.




Aretxabaleta, A. L., Butman, B., Signell, R. P., Dalyander, P. S., Sherwood, C. R., Sheremet, V. A., & McGillicuddy, D. J. (2014). Near-bottom circulation and dispersion of sediment containing Alexandrium fundyense cysts in the Gulf of Maine during 2010-2011. Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 103, 96–111.

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