Understanding upper water mass dynamics in the Gulf of Mexico by linking physical and biogeochemical features

Gabriela Yareli Cervantes-Díaz, José Martín Hernández-Ayón, Alberto Zirino, Sharon Zinah Herzka, Víctor Camacho-Ibar, Orión Norzagaray, Leticia Barbero, Ivonne Montes, Joël Sudre, Juan Antonio Delgado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), the upper 300 m of the water column contains a mixture of water types derived from water masses from the North Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea, namely Caribbean Surface Water (CSW), Subtropical Underwater (SUW), Gulf Common Water (GCW), and Tropical Atlantic Central Water (TACW). These are mainly altered by mesoscale processes and local evaporation, which modulate biogeochemical cycles. In this study, we improve our understanding of water mass dynamics by including biogeochemical data when evaluating the T-S relationship to define water-mass boundaries, particularly when the observed thermohaline characteristics overlap. The variables considered were apparent oxygen utilization (AOU), nitrate, and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). The data were obtained from eight cruises carried out in the central and southern regions of the GoM and an additional cruise that covered the entire coastal-ocean region. The new proposed boundaries were instrumental in clarifying the dynamics of surface waters. Of note, GCW on the western side of the GoM is not formed from the mixing of CSW and SUW but by the mixing of remnant CSW with TACW. In winter, a remnant of CSW mixed with GCW, and the biogeochemical composition of surface waters was affected, as observed from an increase in nitrate and DIC concentrations and positive AOU values. CSW was mainly detected at the surface during summer with negative AOU values, low DIC values, and almost undetectable nitrate concentrations. The presence or absence of CSW modulated the depth of the nitracline and likely influenced primary productivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103647
JournalJournal of Marine Systems
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Anticyclonic eddy
  • Apparent oxygen utilization
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Isopycnal
  • Water mass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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