Abstract

Submarine channels of the Orinoco River were analyzed using high-quality, dense- coverage bathymetric and seismic data provided by a recent marine survey on the southern Barbados prism. Analysis of the syntectonic sediments on seismic profiles shows that the four to five frontmost structures show evidence of recent tectonic movement. Slope analysis of the major channels was performed. From their headwaters to domains of little or no active tectonics, the channels display <0.2% slope and form levees. Slope and incision increase gradually in domains of moderate tectonics, but deep canyons with ∼2% mean slope form where the channels cross the active frontal folds of the prism. Detailed correlation between the active structures, their geometry, and canyon slope suggest that systematic variations in channel gradient highlight variations in substrate uplift rate. Steep slopes induced by uplift accelerate sediment flow and enhance incision. Nonetheless, such slope analysis is subject to complications introduced by variations in sediment flux and transient erosional conditions.

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