First source-to-sink monitoring shows dense head controls sediment flux and runout in turbidity currents

Pope, Ed L.; Cartigny, Matthieu; Clare, Michael ORCID:; Talling, Peter; Lintern, D. Gwyn; Vellinga, Age; Hage, Sophie; Açikalin, Sanem; Bailey, Lewis; Chapplow, Natasha; Chen, Ye; Eggenhuisen, Joris T.; Hendry, Alison; Heerema, Catharina J.; Heijnen, Maarten; Hubbard, Stephen M.; Hunt, James; McGhee, Claire; Parsons, Daniel R.; Simmons, Stephen M.; Stacey, Cooper D.; Vendettuoli, Daniela. 2022 First source-to-sink monitoring shows dense head controls sediment flux and runout in turbidity currents. Science Advances, 8 (20).

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Until recently, despite being one of the most important sediment transport phenomena on Earth, few direct measurements of turbidity currents existed. Consequently, their structure and evolution were poorly understood, particularly whether they are dense or dilute. Here, we analyze the largest number of turbidity currents monitored to date from source to sink. We show sediment transport and internal flow characteristic evolution as they runout. Observed frontal regions (heads) are fast (>1.5 m/s), thin (<10 m), dense (depth averaged concentrations up to 38%vol), strongly stratified, and dominated by grain-to-grain interactions, or slower (<1 m/s), dilute (<0.01%vol), and well mixed with turbulence supporting sediment. Between these end-members, a transitional flow head exists. Flow bodies are typically thick, slow, dilute, and well mixed. Flows with dense heads stretch and bulk up with dense heads transporting up to 1000 times more sediment than the dilute body. Dense heads can therefore control turbidity current sediment transport and runout into the deep sea.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: NOC Programmes > Ocean BioGeosciences
ISSN: 2375-2548
Date made live: 06 Jun 2022 11:39 +0 (UTC)

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