Publication Date

Fall 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Moss Landing Marine Laboratories


Erika McPhee-Shaw

Subject Areas

Physical oceanography


This study presents a comprehensive analysis of oceanographic data collected by an automated profiling mooring and fixed instrumentation platforms deployed over the mud belt on the southern continental shelf of Monterey Bay, California at 70 m depth during the fall of 2012. Physical and optical measurements taken at the study site documented the frequent occurrence of suspended particulate matter (SPM) layers in the mid-water column, the majority of which were detached from the seafloor and overlaid clearer water. This study examines the temporal and spatial variations of these detached SPM layers using time series analysis and modeling methods, and investigates how hydrographic and climatic phenomena relate to their appearance. The results indicate that the forcing of detached SPM layers appears to include not only large enough surface waves for recent seafloor resuspension in the bottom boundary layer but also, and of equal importance, energetic internal tides. A probabilistic model based on co-occurrence of the two environmental processes predicted the appearance of detached SPM layers with 77% accuracy. The ability of energetic internal tides to propagate into Monterey Bay appears to be, to some extent, connected to wind-driven shifts in stratification over the shelf.