Velocity of water

Maximum current velocities of bottom currents in different parts of the world's oceans are summarized in this table. Measured current velocities usually range from 1 to 20 cm/s (Hollister and Heezen, 1972); however, exceptionally strong, near-bottom currents with maximum velocities of up to 300 cm/s were recorded in the Strait of Gibraltar (Gonthier et al., 1984). Bottom-current velocities of 73 cm/s were measured at a water depth of 5 km on the lower continental rise off Nova Scotia (Richardson et al., 1981). Heezen and Hollister (1971) suggested that at extremely high bottom velocities of over 100 cm/s, relict pockets of sand and gravel may occur on the barren seafloor. According to Bulfinch and Ledbetter (1983/1984), a Deep Western Boundary Undercurrent (DWBUC) flows south along the North American continental slope and rise between 1,000 m and 5,000 m. The DWBUC has a 300-km wide high-velocity zone, with a maximum measured velocity of 73 cm/s, which winnows both fine and very fine silt, and results in deposition of medium and coarse silt.

The data is taken from 'New Perspectives on Deep-water Sandstones' by G. Shanmugam, in Handbook of Petroleum Exploration and Production, 2012.

Used in
Study area
Max. current velocity
Straits of GibraltarGonthier et al., 1984400-1400300
Upper slope. Offshore Brazil, Equatorial AtlanticViana et al., 1998200300
Gulf of Mexico, Loop CurrentCooper et al., 1990100204
Green Canyon 166 area, Gulf of Mexico, during drilling operations 1989Koch et al., 199145153
Faeroe Bank Channel, North AtlanticCrease, 1965760709
Rise, Off Nova Scotia, North AtlanticRichardson et al., 1981500073
Base of North American Continental RiseBulfinch & Ledbetter, 1983502273
Ryukyu Trench, JapanTsuji, 199334051
Samoan Passage, Western South PacificHollister et al., 197450
Hebrides Slope, North AtlanticHowe & Humphrey, 1995403-46848
Faeroe-Shetland Channel, North AtlanticAkhurst, 199190033
Rise near Hatteras Canyon, North AtlanticRowe, 197133
Carnegie Ridge, Eastern Equatorial PacificLonsdale & Malfait, 19741000-200030
SE of Iceland, North AtlanticSteele et al., 1962210030
Argentine Basin, Western South AtlanticEwing et al., 197130
Amirante Passage, Western Indian OceanJohnson & Damuth, 19794000-460030
Rise, Off New England, North AtlanticZimmermann, 19713000-500026.5
Blake-Bahama Outer Ridge, North AtlanticAmos et al., 19714300-520026
Off North Carolina, North AtlanticRowe & Menzies, 19681500-400025
Off Cape Cod, North AtlanticVolkman, 196210-320021.5
Off Cape Hatteras, North AtlanticBarrett, 196521
Greater Antilles Outer Ridge, North AtlanticTucholke et al., 19735300-580020
Off Blake Plateau, North AtlanticSwallow & Worthington, 19613300-350020
Tonga Trench and vicinity, Western South PacificReid, 1969>480019
Western North AtlanticWust, 19502000-300017
West Bermuda Rise, North AtlanticKnauss, 1965520017
Scotia Ridge, Antarctic Cicumpolar Current, AntarcticaZenk, 1981300817
Greenland-Iceland-Faeroes Ridge, North AtlanticWorthington & Volkman, 19652000-300012
Antillean-Caribbean Basin (outer), North AtlanticWust, 19634000-800010