A qualitative and physical analysis of processes around the Mascarene plateau

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The Mascarene Plateau is a submerged volcanic plateau to the east of Madagascar which extends over 2200 km between the Seychelles and Mauritius. It is a complex feature, which is composed of 4 banks separated by 3 channels - namely the Seychelles, Saya de Malha, Nazareth and Cargados-Carajos Banks. The main objective of this thesis is to analyze cruise data obtained during the October/November 2008 ASCLME (Agulhas Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystem) cruise on board the Dr Fridtjof Nansen which surveyed the region around the Mascarene Plateau. Due to the paucity of data in the region, the cruise was a routine cruise with no specific scientific questions to be answered. A comparison is also made between sea surface temperature (SST) and Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) derived currents on board to satellite estimate to possibly extend cruise results in space and time. Although the resolution of satellite estimate is low compared to cruise measurements, satellite estimate of geostrophic velocities and sea surface temperatures compare well with cruise data and can therefore be used in the region with confidence. This is invaluable since the Mascarene Plateau is relatively poorly understood and it allows us to link cruise data with Rossby waves and currents impacting the region. This is the second cruise in the region as there was a research cruise on board the RRS Charles Darwin during June/July 2002. However, the June/July 2002 cruise did not sample the banks of the Mascarene Plateau.

Includes bibliographical references