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Understanding topographic effects upon the depositional processes of turbidity currents and the resulting deposit characteristics is key to producing reliable depositional models for turbidity currents. In this study, the effect on depositional patterns of a lateral slope whose strike is parallel to the principal direction of flow is explored using field and experimental results. This type of basin topography is commonly found in confined turbidite systems. Field data from the Peïra Cava turbidite system of the Tertiary Alpine Foreland Basin (SE France) and experimental data show that a characteristic depositional pattern is produced by surge-type waning flows that interact with a lateral slope. This pattern comprises beds that thin (and fine in the field study) not only downstream but also markedly away from the lateral slope (Type I beds). In the Peïra Cava system, this pattern is also observed in average values of sandstone bed thickness, sandstone percentage and grain-size, derived from measured sections, demonstrating that the processes responsible for this pattern also control gross properties within this sheet system. The characteristic thinning-away-from-slope deposit geometry is interpreted as an effect of the lateral slope via its influence on spatial variations in flow properties and on the suspended load fallout rate (SLFR) from currents. Flow velocity non-uniformity cannot explain thinning into the basin because flow has a higher deceleration along streamlines away from the slope that should cause higher SLFR and thicker deposits away from the slope instead of close to the slope. A concentration non-uniformity mechanism is invoked that has the effect of maintaining relatively high flow concentrations and hence SLFR in medial and distal locations close to the slope. Experiments suggest that this may arise due to different rates of flow expansion on the obstructed and unobstructed sides of the current in proximal regions. Velocity non-uniformity can, however, explain the geometry of deposits that thicken away from slope. Beds of this type do occur occasionally in the Peïra Cava system (Type II beds). Flow velocity non-uniformity patterns have been used previously to successfully explain the spatial distributions of depositional facies of turbidity currents that have interacted with topography. The analysis in this study demonstrates that velocity non-uniformity, by itself, cannot explain depositional patterns in all basin settings. Future depositional models need to incorporate the effects of spatial changes in other flow properties, such as flow concentration, upon deposition to be able to predict turbidite facies in many different types of basin setting.

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