Research papersTracking bottom waters in the Southern Adriatic Sea applying seismic oceanography techniques
Review articleOpen access

AbstractWe present the first results from the seismic oceanography (SO) cruise ADRIASEISMIC where we successfully imaged thermohaline fine structures in the shallow water environment (50–150 m) of the southern Adriatic Sea during March 2009 using a compact two GI-gun seismic source. The SO observations are complemented with traditional oceanographic and micro-structure measurements and show that SO can operate over almost the entire water column except (in our experimental layout) for the uppermost 50 m. After processing to enhance the signal-to-noise ratio, the seismic reflection data have a vertical resolution of ~10 m and a horizontal resolution of ~100 m and provide a laterally continuous map of significant thermohaline boundaries that cannot be achieved with conventional physical oceanography measurements alone. ADRIASEISMIC specifically targeted structures in shallow waters, namely along the western margin of the southern Adriatic Sea, between the Gargano peninsula and the Bari canyon, and imaged the Northern Adriatic Dense Water (NAdDW), a bounded cold and relatively dense water mass flowing from the northern Adriatic Sea.The seismic data acquired in Bari canyon and offshore of the Gargano promontory show many regions of strongly reflecting shallow structures, and the incorporation of XBTs measurements with these data demonstrate that they can be interpreted in terms of temperature structures and gradients. In the Gargano region several warm water intrusive structures are mapped along with the offshore transitional edge of cold waters of strong NAdDW influence. In Bari Canyon, waters with NAdDW influence are further mapped extending over the shelf and off the slope into a 5 km long tongue extending offshore between depths of 200 and 300 m. More generally, even though neither cascading nor open-ocean deep convection process appeared to be evident during March 2009, the SO approach was able to map details of thermal features not resolved by even closely spaced XBT measurements.

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