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Ash and Phytoplankton Off Argentine Coast

44.2S 64W

February 22nd, 2012 Category: Phytoplankton, Volcanoes

Argentina - January 1st, 2012

A blue phytoplankton bloom can be observed off the coast of Argentina, southeast of the Valdés Peninsula, at the bottom of this image. Also visible near the peninsula is a plume of dust, most likely ash from Chile’s Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano. The plume is blowing southeastward, between Bahía Blanca and the Valdés Peninsula, and passes over the phytoplankton bloom.

The bloom developed in an area known as the Brazil-Falklands Confluence, where the warm, salty waters of the subtropical Brazil Current flow south and meet the colder, fresher waters brought north from the Southern Ocean by the Falklands (Malvinas) Current. The collision of these currents pulls nutrients up from the deep ocean. This, in combination with strong summer sun, allows a growth spurt for the microscopic, floating plants-phytoplankton-that form the center of the ocean food web.

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