Research Spotlight: Coriolis forces affect flow in submarine channels


  • Ernie Tretkoff


Coriolis forces due to the Earth's rotation deflect winds and ocean flows to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. In sinuous submarine channels, Coriolis forces can drive secondary circulation of turbidity currents and determine where erosion and sediment deposition occur.

Cossu and Wells conducted laboratory experiments with a channel in a rotating tank to study the conditions under which Coriolis forces dominate the channel flow and investigate how these forces affect sediment deposition. They found that channels at high latitudes and those with large bends are dominated by Coriolis forces, while channels at lower latitudes and those with smaller bends are less influenced by Coriolis forces.