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Submarine Current Measurements--Northwest Gulf of Mexico
George T. Moore (1)
In February 1966 Exxon Corporation undertook a geophysical and geological survey of the continental slope of the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida.
As part of this survey, the vessel D/V CALDRILL I was to drill 42 core holes at 36 sites. Submarine current measurements were to be recorded while the vessel was on station; however, due to many problems only six usable submarine current records were obtained.
Vertical current profiles at five of the six stations show two prevailing directions which may represent distinct water masses. The upper current flows generally to the east or northeast, increasing from about 0.2 knots in the west to about 0.4 knots in the east. Below this system is a current that flows to the west or northwest, at similar rates. The interface between these water masses deepens westward, from about 400 meters to about 600 meters. The shallower current may be related to the Yucatan Current.
At five sites the meter was maintained for up to nine hours a short distance off the sea floor, to determine the sustained nature of the currents. Usable records obtained at three locations ar consistent in both velocity and direction with the short-term vertical measurements.
These few scattered measurements would not seem to warrant broad conclusions the movement and structure of the water masses over the upper continental slope. On the other hand, the data clearly document certain water movements in the Spring of 1966; most of these data are internally consistent, and the velocities were sufficient at times to transport fine to medium sand.
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