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SOLWARA: Physical and geochemical transformations within the Solomon Sea

by TIM last modified Nov 20, 2020 10:38 AM


See also PANDORA web site.


The Solwara project aimed at better understanding the inflow, the outflow and the circulation within the Solomon Sea (SS), as well as geochemical sources and water mass transformations along this pathway to the equator.
The objectives more specifically related to geochemistry and studied as part of the PANDORA and CASSIOPEE cruises are:
•    To improve the physical and geochemical knowledge of the oceanic features of the Solomon Sea
•    To describe in details the inside Solomon Sea circulation and flows between trenches and islands;
•    To identify possible enrichment of trace elements occurring within the SS and in case of yes, the source of these enrichments, the affected layers and the time scales of the processes yielding these enrichments.


Scientific Rationale

In the South West Pacific, waters are first transported westward from the central South Pacific in the South Equatorial Current and eventually join the equator after transiting in the western boundary current system of the Coral and Solomon Seas. This circulation is also associated with the equatorward supply of trace elements that controls biological activity in the equatorial area. These physical and geochemical mechanisms propel this area as one of the hot spots that controls the present day ocean and climate functioning. It is therefore urgent to understand better this area. Better constraining their trajectory and interannual variation is the aim of the SOLWARA project (PI Alex Ganachaud), a contribution to SPICE-CLIVAR. Core of the SOLWARA activities, the PANDORA cruise is labeled as GEOTRACES section (

Strategy & organization

As part of the PANDORA cruise (Coral and Solomon Seas, summer 2012, Atalante), a focus on tracer supplies from continental margins/ocean exchange and on micronutrients was done.  Their pathways were explored using Lagrangian modeling tools and budget calculation.
The main objective of the CASSIOPEE cruise (Equator centered, East of the Solomon Islands) was to study the extra-equatorial jets and their recirculations at the coast, coupling physical and geochemical approaches.

Results & perspective


-    The lower thermocline layer, clearly enriched while circulating within the SS, as estimated using a box model calculation. This lower thermocline is largely contributing to the Equatorial Under Current, confirming the results of Grenier et al (2013, 2014). This work was displayed as posters at two Goldschmidt Conf. (2015, 2017) and is in revision, Chemical Geology

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