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In the Bismarck Volcanic Arc in Papua New Guinea, six fields of sediment waves were imaged with sonar. Sediment structures observed in seismic data and swath bathymetry are not unique and can result from predominantly continuous (bottom) currents, or episodic (turbidity) currents, or from deformation of sediment. Two of these wave fields overlap and appear to be of turbidity-current origin and modified by bottom currents, with one field unconformably overlying the other field. A field off the coast of Dakataua caldera displays an arcuate morphology, and a series of enclosed depressions within the field suggests creation by extensional deformation of rapidly deposited sediment. Scour features in side-scan imagery suggest turbidity-current activity, which also likely modifies the sediment waves. The wave field is isolated from hyperpycnal currents, however, suggesting that in the absence of a shelf, coastal erosion and small landslides can produce semiregular gravity-driven sediment flows that deposit in deep (>1400 m) water. In Kimbe Bay a fourth sediment-wave field also displays arcuate morphology and enclosed depressions within the field. This wave field is found within a bay >40 km from shore and also appears to have been formed by a combination of extensional deformation of sediment and energetic current activity. Two additional fields in Hixon Bay are fed by small and medium rivers (<∼450 m3/s mean annual discharge) draining volcanoes and mountainous regions. One small field appears within a slide scar, suggesting that the initial topography of the scar provided the conditions for early sediment-wave growth. A much larger field is best explained by repeated hyperpycnal currents originating from the Pandi River. We cored a series of upward-fining, graded sequences consistent with a turbidity-current origin. Ages from these cores and measurements of relative thickness in sub-bottom imagery of the field constrain deposition rates for the field and suggest that a large part of the Pandi River discharge must be bypassing the shelf and depositing on the sediment-wave field in deep water (>1200 m). These findings suggest that the sedimentary record in arc collision zones will be dominated by mass-wasting deposits very close to volcanoes, and by river discharge depositing in select, extent regions far from shore. Because sedimentation rates can vary by a factor of 2 between the two flanks of a sediment wave, care must be taken when comparing bed thickness across an entire sedimentary section.

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