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Powerful turbidity currents driven by dense basal layers

Powerful turbidity currents driven by dense basal layers
Powerful turbidity currents driven by dense basal layers
Seafloor sediment flows (turbidity currents) are among the volumetrically most important yet least documented sediment transport processes on Earth. A scarcity of direct observations means that basic characteristics, such as whether flows are entirely dilute or driven by a dense basal layer, remain equivocal. Here we present the most detailed direct observations yet from oceanic turbidity currents. These powerful events in Monterey Canyon have frontal speeds of up to 7.2 m s−1, and carry heavy (800 kg) objects at speeds of ≥4 m s−1. We infer they consist of fast and dense near-bed layers, caused by remobilization of the seafloor, overlain by dilute clouds that outrun the dense layer. Seabed remobilization probably results from disturbance and liquefaction of loose-packed canyon-floor sand. Surprisingly, not all flows correlate with major perturbations such as storms, floods or earthquakes. We therefore provide a new view of sediment transport through submarine canyons into the deep-sea.
Paull, Charles K.
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Talling, Peter
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Maier, Katherine L.
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Parsons, Daniel
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Xu, Jingping
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Caress, David W.
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Gwiazda, Roberto
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Lundsten, Eve
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Anderson, Krystle
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Barry, James
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Chaffey, Mark
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O'Reilly, Tom
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Rosenberger, Kurt
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Gales, Jenny G.
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Kieft, Brian
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McGann, Mary
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Simmons, Steve
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McCann, Mike
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Sumner, Esther J.
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Clare, Michael A.
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Cartigny, Matthieu J.B.
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Paull, Charles K.
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Talling, Peter
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Maier, Katherine L.
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Parsons, Daniel
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Xu, Jingping
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Caress, David W.
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Gwiazda, Roberto
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Lundsten, Eve
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Anderson, Krystle
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Barry, James
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Chaffey, Mark
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O'Reilly, Tom
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Rosenberger, Kurt
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Gales, Jenny G.
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Kieft, Brian
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McGann, Mary
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Simmons, Steve
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McCann, Mike
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Sumner, Esther J.
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Clare, Michael A.
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Cartigny, Matthieu J.B.
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Paull, Charles K., Talling, Peter, Maier, Katherine L., Parsons, Daniel, Xu, Jingping, Caress, David W., Gwiazda, Roberto, Lundsten, Eve, Anderson, Krystle, Barry, James, Chaffey, Mark, O'Reilly, Tom, Rosenberger, Kurt, Gales, Jenny G., Kieft, Brian, McGann, Mary, Simmons, Steve, McCann, Mike, Sumner, Esther J., Clare, Michael A. and Cartigny, Matthieu J.B. (2018) Powerful turbidity currents driven by dense basal layers. Nature Communications, 9, [4114]. (doi:10.1038/s41467-018-06254-6).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Seafloor sediment flows (turbidity currents) are among the volumetrically most important yet least documented sediment transport processes on Earth. A scarcity of direct observations means that basic characteristics, such as whether flows are entirely dilute or driven by a dense basal layer, remain equivocal. Here we present the most detailed direct observations yet from oceanic turbidity currents. These powerful events in Monterey Canyon have frontal speeds of up to 7.2 m s−1, and carry heavy (800 kg) objects at speeds of ≥4 m s−1. We infer they consist of fast and dense near-bed layers, caused by remobilization of the seafloor, overlain by dilute clouds that outrun the dense layer. Seabed remobilization probably results from disturbance and liquefaction of loose-packed canyon-floor sand. Surprisingly, not all flows correlate with major perturbations such as storms, floods or earthquakes. We therefore provide a new view of sediment transport through submarine canyons into the deep-sea.

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s41467-018-06254-6 - Version of Record
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Accepted/In Press date: 20 August 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 5 October 2018
Published date: 2018

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Local EPrints ID: 425044
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/425044
PURE UUID: e7d87760-b43c-47e3-8d5e-e8dc553bf31a

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Date deposited: 09 Oct 2018 16:30
Last modified: 06 Oct 2020 20:40

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Contributors

Author: Charles K. Paull
Author: Peter Talling
Author: Katherine L. Maier
Author: Daniel Parsons
Author: Jingping Xu
Author: David W. Caress
Author: Roberto Gwiazda
Author: Eve Lundsten
Author: Krystle Anderson
Author: James Barry
Author: Mark Chaffey
Author: Tom O'Reilly
Author: Kurt Rosenberger
Author: Jenny G. Gales
Author: Brian Kieft
Author: Mary McGann
Author: Steve Simmons
Author: Mike McCann
Author: Michael A. Clare
Author: Matthieu J.B. Cartigny

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