Nepheloid layer dynamics in the northern Portuguese shelf - INSU - Institut national des sciences de l'Univers Access content directly
Journal Articles Progress in Oceanography Year : 2002

Nepheloid layer dynamics in the northern Portuguese shelf

A. Oliveira
  • Function : Author
J. Vitorino
  • Function : Author
A. Rodrigues
  • Function : Author
J. A. Dias
  • Function : Author


A general hydrographic and nephelometric survey of the NW Portuguese continental shelf and upper slope was undertaken, under winter and spring conditions. The nepheloid layer dynamics along the shelf during three cruises were controlled, principally by the following factors: (a) the hydrography of the shelf-slope waters, i.e. the nepheloid layers followed isopycnals and water masses; (b) prevalence of upwelling or downwelling circulation over the shelf; (c) dispersion of material by river discharge (mainly the Douro river); (d) resuspension of mid-shelf fine deposits induced by swell; (e) peculiar morphology with the presence of Porto Canyon and outer shelf rock outcrops. The general circulation controls the seaward extension of the nepheloid layers. In winter, under dominant downwelling conditions, an intense bottom nepheloid layer (BNL) was observed on the shelf, due to river borne particle supply and remobilization of mid-shelf muddy sediments (depth ≈100 m). In this period the BNL increased in thickness to the top of the slope, following the isopycnals. Near the shelf-break the BNL detached to form intermediate nepheloid layers (INL). Small INLs appear deeper in some areas of the slope. A surface nepheloid layer (SNL) appears in the surface water over the shelf and slope. In spring, biological particles mainly contribute to the SNL, which is separated from the BNL by a zone of clear water. In winter the SNL is restricted to the inner shelf where there are high inputs of fluvial particles. Downwelling circulation probably induces transport of shelf particles to deeper waters in the BNL. In spring, the predominant circulation was southward (upwelling), the water column was highly stratified, and dispersion of particles in the SNL was offshore.

Dates and versions

insu-03619003 , version 1 (24-03-2022)



A. Oliveira, J. Vitorino, A. Rodrigues, J. M. Jouanneau, J. A. Dias, et al.. Nepheloid layer dynamics in the northern Portuguese shelf. Progress in Oceanography, 2002, 52, pp.195-213. ⟨10.1016/S0079-6611(02)00006-X⟩. ⟨insu-03619003⟩


4 View
0 Download



Gmail Facebook Twitter LinkedIn More