The oxygen and carbon stable isotope compositions of the present-day Mediterranean waters have been measured in order to evaluate their variability, which is related to the specific climatic and hydrological conditions within the basin. The experimental equation between the δ 18 O value and the salinity of water, based on 300 measurements on surface, intermediate, and deep waters sampled during the VICOMED 2 and 3 cruises in the western, central and eastern Mediterranean, has a slope of 0.27, a value which is significantly lower than the slope of 0.45, as defined in the northeast Atlantic Ocean. This difference in the δ 18 O–salinity relationship, which occurs immediately in the Alboran basin, is basically a characteristic of the climatic regime of the Mediterranean, i.e., of an excess evaporation over fresh water input. The largest variations of these two parameters, δ 18 O of water and δ 13 C of ∑CO 2 , are observed in the surface waters, mostly in the western Mediterranean. This evolution mirrors the progressive eastward restriction, which separates the less-evaporated and more-productive western basins from the more-evaporated and less-productive eastern basins. The intermediate waters constitute a homogeneous layer. However, their δ 18 O values decrease eastward by 0.35‰ at maximum, due to progressive dilution by mixing with overlying and underlying water masses; their δ 13 C values decrease also eastward by 0.35‰ at maximum, due to an increasing input of nutrients issued from the regeneration of sinking organic particles. The deep waters have similar δ 18 O values but slightly higher δ 13 C values (often by less than 0.1‰) than the overlying intermediate waters, indicating generally well ventilated conditions due to active winter convection.
Marine Geology – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 1999
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