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Spatial and temporal variability of seawater properties, current velocity and SPM concentration off Cassino Beach-Rio Grande-Southern Brazil

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Water column profiles and near-bed time series of pressure, current velocity, suspended-particulate matter (SPM) concentration and seawater temperature and salinity were collected during three short cruises carried out in May 2005 in the shoreface and inner shelf area adjacent to Cassino Beach, southern Brazil. The measurements were part of the Cassino Experiment, a project conducted at an open, sandy coastal area known for the occurrence of patches of fairly large amounts of muddy sediments that are sporadically fluidized, transported onshore and eventually stranded on the beach. The study area is close to the Patos Lagoon mouth, being influenced by its water and suspended-sediment discharge. The presence of the Patos Lagoon outflow on the inner shelf was detected in one of the cruises (May 13) through measurements of near-surface salinity: while close to shore salinity was 29.4, a minimum value of 13.8 was measured at similar to 10 km from the coast. Four days later, no trace of the plume was detected in the area. Regarding seawater temperature, no large temporal or spatial variability was documented with measured values ranging from 19.3 to 20 degrees C. Water column currents were prominently to N and NE, except at the outermost station, located similar to 42 km from the coast, where NW-directed flows were observed at surface and mid-depth. Maximum near-bed current velocity oscillated between 18 and 42 cm s(-1) in the east-west direction and between 14 and 42 cm s(-1) in the north-south direction. Near-surface concentration of SPM oscillated between 11 and 99 mg L-1, in general one order of magnitude lower than near-bed values. However, near-bed concentration of SPM showed large spatial variability: the highest value (2200 mg L-1) was yielded by a water sample collected at similar to 8 m water depth, at a station located similar to 2 km away from the shoreline; two water samples collected 500 m, apart from this station, yielded SPM concentrations of 148 and 205 mg L-1, one order of magnitude lower. Spectral analyses of near-bed current speed and SPM concentration indicate the relevance of oscillations in the low-frequency (<0.05 Hz) range. Detailed sampling of bottom sediment indicated that in May 2005 the mud patch was centered at similar to 8.5 m water depth. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. AM rights reserved.

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