A reduced-gravity model is used to examine the dynamics of dense water descending a continental slope. The model solves for the geostrophically adjusted state before it is subjected to significant frictional decay. For such bottom-mounted flow, it is argued that frictional torque would dominate the net vorticity balance to equalize the edge flows, resulting in double velocity cores. Constrained by the geostrophic balance, the dense water thus may settle only over a concave bottom and is sheetlike, covering typically the whole slope rise. As such, the adjustment is characterized by a spreading rather than sinking of the layer-with little descent of the upper edge but a swift downslope current propelling the lower edge. Through the mechanical energy balance, it is found in addition that a greater density anomaly would increase the total entrainment flux to more strongly dilute the original anomaly, yielding a product water that is less varied in the water-mass properties. Model predictions compare favorably with some observed dense outflows, in support of the entrainment and friction control of the geostrophic adjustment.
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