On the triggers, resulting flow types and frequencies of subaqueous sediment density flows in different settings

Talling, Peter J.. 2014 On the triggers, resulting flow types and frequencies of subaqueous sediment density flows in different settings. Marine Geology, 352. 155-182. 10.1016/j.margeo.2014.02.006

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Turbidity currents, and other types of underwater sediment density flow, are arguably the most important flow process for moving sediment across our planet. Direct monitoring provides the most reliable information on the varied ways in which these flows are triggered, and thus forms the basis for this contribution. Recent advances in flow monitoring make this contribution timely, although monitoring is biased towards more frequent flow types. Submarine deltas fed by bedload dominated rivers can be very active with tens of events each year. Larger events are generated by delta-lip failures, whilst smaller events can be associated with motion of up-slope migrating bedforms. River-fed submarine canyons are flushed every few years by powerful long run-out flows. Flows in river-fed delta and canyon systems tend to occur during months of elevated river discharge. However, many flows do not coincide with flood peaks, or occur where rivers do not reach hyperpycnal concentrations, and are most likely triggered by failure of rapidly deposited sediment. Plunging of hyperpycnal river floodwater commonly triggers dilute and slow moving flows in lakes and reservoirs, and has been shown to produce mm-thick fine-grained deposits. It is proposed here that such thin and fine deposits are typical of flows triggered by hyperpycnal river floods, rather than thicker sand layers with traction structure or displaying inverse-to-normal grading. Oceanographic canyons are detached from rivers mouths and fed by oceanographic processes (wave and tide resuspension, longshore drift, etc.). Most events in these canyons are associated with large wave heights. Up-slope migrating crescentic bedforms are seen, similar to those observed in river-fed deltas. Oceanographic processes tend to infill canyons, which are flushed episodically by much more powerful flows, inferred to result from slope failure. This filling and flushing model is less applicable to river-fed canyons in which flushing events are much more frequent. Oceanographic canyons may result from rapid sea level rise that detaches river mouths from canyon heads, and they can remain active during sea level highstands. Deep-water basin plains are often dominated by infrequent but very large flows triggered by failure of the continental slope. Recurrence intervals of these flows appear almost random, and only weakly (if at all) correlated with sea level change. Turbidites can potentially provide a valuable long-term record of major earthquakes, but widespread slope failure is the only reliable criteria for inferring seismic triggering. However, not all major earthquakes trigger widespread slope failure, so that the record is incomplete in some locations.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.margeo.2014.02.006
ISSN: 00253227
Additional Keywords: submarine flow; turbidity current; turbidite; submarine fan; trigger; frequency; timing; sealevel; earthquake; hyperpycnal flow
Date made live: 24 Feb 2014 11:30 +0 (UTC)

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