Turbulent mixing in the deep ocean is not well understood. The breaking of internal waves on sloped seafloor topography can generate deep-sea turbulence. However, it is difficult to measure turbulence comprehensively due to its multi-scale processes, in addition to flow–flow and flow–topography interactions. Dense, high-resolution spatiotemporal coverage of observations may help shed light on turbulence evolution. Here, we present turbulence observations from four broadband ocean bottom seismometers (OBSs) and a 200-m vertical thermistor string (T-string) in a footprint of 1 × 1 km to characterize turbulence induced by internal waves at a depth of 3000 m on a Pacific continental slope. Correlating the OBS-calculated time derivative of kinetic energy and the T-string-calculated turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate, we propose that the OBS-detected signals were induced by near-seafloor turbulence. Strong disturbances were detected during a typhoon period, suggesting large-scale inertial waves breaking with upslope transport speeds of 0.2–0.5 m s−1. Disturbances were mostly excited on the downslope side of the array where the internal waves from the Pacific Ocean broke initially and the turbulence oscillated between < 1 km small-scale ridges. Such small-scale topography caused varying turbulence-induced signals due to localized waves breaking. Arrayed OBSs can provide complementary observations to characterize deep-sea turbulence.
Yang, CF., Chi, WC. & van Haren, H., (2021), Deep-sea turbulence evolution observed by multiple closely spaced instruments, Scientific Reports 11, 3919