Physical and geochemical drivers of CDOM variability near a natural seep site in the Gulf of Mexico

Catherine Richardson Edwards, Skidaway Institute of Oceanogr, Savannah, GA, United States, Leanne Powers, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, Savannah, GA, United States and Patricia M Medeiros, University of Georgia, Department of Marine Sciences, Athens, GA, United States
Colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) on the continental shelf and slope can serve as a marker for fresh water influence, indicate the presence of hydrocarbons, and provide important clues about nutrient content and organic matter cycling. Autonomous underwater vehicles such as gliders allow for subsurface measurement of CDOM fluorescence for weeks to months; these time series may be especially valuable in the northern Gulf of Mexico, where CDOM inputs of both terrestrial and oil and gas sources can be significant. Data from a recent glider deployment near a natural seep site (GC600) on the continental slope over 180km from shore suggest simultaneous influence of Mississippi plume water and hydrocarbon inputs in the upper 200m, with variability in fluorescence at a range of vertical and temporal scales. We will explore patterns in spatial and temporal variability of glider-measured hydrography, dissolved oxygen, and bio-optical data (CDOM, chlorophyll-a, backscatter fluorescence), and use their combination to infer a terrigenous and/or fossil fuel source(s). Taking advantage of a combination of satellite sea surface temperature, ocean color, wind, and data from moored and mobile platforms, we will examine physical controls on transport and vertical mixing of CDOM and the potential role of nonlinear mesoscale eddies, which can trap water in their interior and may transport river- or hydrocarbon-derived CDOM over long distances. The combined data set will be used to consider and potentially constrain the effect of photodegradation and other biogeochemical causes for CDOM fluorescence variability in the upper 200m.