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    Deep-sea bottom-water environment change caused by sediment resuspension on the continental slope off Sanriku, Japan, before and after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake

    Wakita M, Watanabe S, Yoshino J, Oguri K, Nomaki H, Kawagucci S, Ariyoshi K, Nagano A, Fujikura K

    The 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake, Deep-sea bottom-water environment, Continental slope, Turbidity, Sediment resuspension, Dissolved oxygen, Dissolved inorganic carbon, Methane

    Time series of potential temperature (left) and DO (right) in the Sanriku area (circles) and along the P10 section (green triangles) on the studied isopycnal surfaces (27.38σθ: red; 27.56σθ: blue).

    The 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake occurred off southern Sanriku, Japan, on March 11 and generated strong shaking and huge tsunami along the entire eastern coast of Tohoku. The mainshock and numerous large aftershocks caused mass-wasting sedimentation events on the continental shelf, slope, and trench bottom. To investigate the impacts of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake on the deep-sea bottom-water environment off Sanriku, we conducted shipboard surveys up to ~ 2000 dbar during 2011–2018 and long-term monitoring of the seafloor on the continental slope using a deep-sea station (~ 1000 dbar) off Otsuchi Bay during 2012–2018. The high turbidity (maximum ~ 6%) was observed for the bottom water deeper than 500 dbar on the continental slope of the entire area off Sanriku during 2012–2018. This high turbidity was caused by sporadic sediment resuspension induced by frequent large aftershocks. Furthermore, dissolved oxygen concentrations in the bottom layer from 1000 to 1500 dbar dropped significantly by about 10% after the earthquake, while nutrients and dissolved inorganic carbon showed no significant changes but exhibited wide variations. The high turbidity was associated with the increase in the concentrations of phosphate, dissolved inorganic carbon, and methane, as well as the decrease in those of dissolved oxygen and nitrate. This suggests that remineralization of suspended organic matter resulting from the respiration and denitrification of microbial communities after the earthquake caused the chemical properties of the deep-sea bottom-water. The deep-sea bottom-water environment change was maintained by sporadic sediment resuspension due to continued large aftershocks and was likely caused by variations in dissolved inorganic carbon and phosphate. There are two peaks in the concentration and carbon isotope ratio of methane on the deeper slope from 1000 to 2000 dbar near the hypocenter, which were advected along isopycnal surfaces of 27.38σθ (1000 dbar) and 27.56σθ (1500 dbar). The source of the shallower peak of chemical input is considered to be the sediment resuspension from the shallow sediment on the continental slope induced by the mainshock and large aftershocks.