Reconstructing the sediment concentration of a giant submarine gravity flow

Christopher Stevenson, Peter Feldens, Aggeliki Georgiopoulou, Mischa Schӧnke, Sebastian Krastel, David Piper, Katja Lindhorst, David Mosher

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Abstract

Submarine gravity flows are responsible for the largest sediment accumulations on the planet, but are notoriously difficult to measure in action. Giant flows transport 100s of km3 of sediment with run-out distances over 2000 km. Sediment concentration is a first order control on flow dynamics and deposit character. It has never been measured directly nor convincingly estimated in large submarine flows. Here we reconstruct the sediment concentration of a historic giant submarine flow, the 1929 “Grand Banks” event, using two independent approaches, each validated by estimates of flow speed from cable breaks. The
calculated average bulk sediment concentration of the flow was 2.7–5.4% by volume. This is orders of magnitude higher than directly-measured smaller-volume flows in river deltas and submarine canyons. The new concentration estimate provides a test case for scaled experiments and numerical simulations, and a major step towards a quantitative understanding of these prodigious flows.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2616
JournalNature Communications
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

© This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless vindicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0/. © The Author(s) 2018

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    Stevenson, C., Feldens, P., Georgiopoulou, A., Schӧnke, M., Krastel, S., Piper, D., Lindhorst, K., & Mosher, D. (2018). Reconstructing the sediment concentration of a giant submarine gravity flow. Nature Communications, 9, [2616]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-05042-6