High Range CTD for Exploration of the Red Sea Deep Brine Pools


DOEI Funded Project: 2008


The hot brine pools of the Red Sea may well be the hottest and saltiest natural waters to be found on Earth.  As such they present a unique challenge for sampling with regular oceanographic instruments.  The physical structure of these fluid pools is of particular interest, as they involve double-diffusive mixing in which thin high-gradient regions are formed that separate well mixed layers above and below.  Greater thermal diffusion across the interfaces occurs because of the great difference in the molecular diffusivities of heat and salt (Schmitt, 1994).  The buoyancy flux due to the heat diffusion drives convection that keeps the mixed layers stirred.  We are interested in the detailed structure of these convectively-driven layered systems.  High-resolution data on the interfacial gradients will allow estimates of heat and salt fluxes, and mapping of the extent and water properties of the layers will permit budgets and estimates of heat and salt supply to the deep brine pools.  This proposal seeks support for development of a high-range CTD to enable this exploration.