Volume And Recurrence of Submarine-Fan-Building Turbidity Currents

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1002/dep2.42. This is version 2 of this Preprint.


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Zane Richards Jobe, Nick Howes, Brian Romans , Jacob Covault


(now published in "The Depositional Record")

Submarine fans are archives of Earth-surface processes and change, recording information about the turbidity currents that construct and sculpt them. The volume and recurrence of turbidity currents are of great interest for geohazard assessment, source-to-sink modeling, and hydrocarbon reservoir characterization. Yet, such dynamics are poorly constrained. This study integrates data from four Quaternary submarine fans to reconstruct the volume and recurrence of the formative turbidity currents. Calculated event volumes vary over four orders of magnitude (10^5 to 10^9 m3), whereas recurrence intervals vary less, from 50 to 650 years.
The calculated turbidity-current-event volume magnitudes appear to be related to slope position and basin confinement. Intraslope-fan deposits have small event volumes (~ 10^6 m3) while ponded-fan deposits have very large event volumes (10^8 to 10^9 m3). Deposits in non-ponded, base-of-slope environments have intermediate values (10^7 to 10^8 m3). Sediment bypass in intraslope settings and flow trapping in ponded basins likely accounts for these differences. There seems to be no clear relationship between event recurrence and basin confinement. Weak scaling exists between event volume and source-area characteristics, but sediment storage in fluvial and/or intraslope transfer zones likely complicates these relationships. The methodology and results are also applied to reconstruct the time of deposition of ancient submarine-fan deposits.
The volume and recurrence of submarine-fan-building turbidity currents form intermediate values between values measured in submarine canyons and channels (<10^5 m3 and <10^1 yr) and on abyssal plains (>10^8 m3 and >10^3 yr), indicating that small, frequent flows originating in submarine canyons often die out prior to reaching the fan, while rare and very large flows mostly bypass the fan and deposit sediment on the abyssal plain. This partitioning of flow volume and recurrence along the submarine sediment-routing system provides valuable insights for better constraining geohazards, hydrocarbon resources, and the completeness of the stratigraphic record.




Analysis, Applied Mathematics, Earth Sciences, Geology, Geomorphology, Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Sedimentology, Stratigraphy


geohazard, submarine landslide, turbidity current, submarine canyon, abyssal plain, recurrence


Published: 2018-01-28 19:25

Last Updated: 2018-01-28 19:44

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