The Effect of Local Topographic Unevenness on Contourite Paleo-Deposition Around Marine Capes: A Novel "Geostrophic Cascade" in Cape Suvero and Cape Cilento (Tyrrhenian Sea)

Friday, 19 December 2014
Ettore Salusti, CNR Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, CNR Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Rome,, Bologna, Italy, Francesco Latino Chiocci, Università la Sapienza, Scienze della Terra, Rome, Italy, Eleonora Martorelli, CNR-IGAG, Rome, Italy and Federico Falcini, CNR-ISAC, Rome, Italy
Despite the fact that two neighboring headlands in the Italian Southern Tyrrhenian Sea, Cape Cilento and Cape Suvero, have rather similar morphology and contouring flows, their contourite drifts were recognized, respectively, upstream the Cape Cilento tip and downstream Cape Suvero tip. Such an intriguing difference is discussed in terms of paleo-sedimentary processes induced by the interaction between large scale marine current turbulence and seafloor morphology around a cape (Martorelli et al., 2010). However Martorelli’s et al. model for contourite location - which allows only an upstream contourite location for this kind of capes – fails in trying to explain such a difference. We thus focus on the local effect of a topographic depression, viz. a landslide scar off Cape Suvero, on flows contouring a cape. By applying the classical conservation of marine water potential vorticity we find a steady cyclonic circulation over the scar, that generates a "geostrophic cascade" that affects contourite deposition and stability. All this intuitively reminds the current dynamics around the Galileo’s Red Spot in Jupiter’s atmosphere. We thus show that the application of the potential vorticity conservation can provide a novel theoretical tool for investigating sedimentary structures and their evolution.