Abstract

Certain attributes of submarine channels measured from GLORIA sidescan sonar data from 16 different submarine fans indicate similarities with fluviatile systems. Channel width, depth, meander radius and wavelength, sinuosity, and gradient were measured. This approach makes it possible to identify high- sinuosity, low-gradient (e.g., Indus Fan channels) and low-sinuosity, high- gradient (e.g., Porcupine Seabight channels) channel systems as end members. Current classifications of submarine fans relate fan shape to grain size or sediment caliber and therefore are inadequate, principally because the shape of the fan is strongly controlled by the shape of the receiving basin, which in turn is dependent upon parameters such as tectonics and diapirism. Overall fan shape is almost invariably independent of the physics of sediment transport. Rather than fan shape, the geometry and other characteristics of submarine channels and canyons provide a more promising means of differentiating deep- marine turbidite systems.

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