Abstract

Queen Inlet is unique among Glacier Bay fjords because it alone has a branching channel system incised in the Holocene sediment fill of the fjord floor. Bathymetry and seismic-reflection profiles show that four channels begin on, or at the base of, the delta front of this marine-outwash fjord. By midpoint of the fjord, these channels have merged into one main channel that extends the length of the fjord. The main channel cuts deeply into the scarp that separates this hanging tributary from the West Arm of Glacier Bay. The Queen Inlet channel ends on the main fjord floor as several small distributaries that form part of a lobate-fan deposit. Sand from the channel and lobate fan, in contrast to fjord-floor mud, plus steep truncated channel walls indicate that turbidity currents created this apparently active channel system. Queen Inlet and other known channel-containing fjords are marine-outwash fjords; the tidewater glacial fjords do not have steep delta fronts on which slides are generated and may not have a sufficient reservoir of potentially unstable coarse sediment to generate channel-cutting turbidity currents. Presence or absence of channels, as revealed in the ancient rock record, may be one criterion for interpreting types of fjords.

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