Abstract

Field measurements of oceanic turbidity currents, especially diluted currents, are extremely rare. We present a dilute turbidity current recorded by instrumented moorings 14.5 km apart at 1300 and 1860 m water depth. The sediment concentration within the flow was 0.017%, accounting for 18 cm/s gravity current speed due to density excess. Tidal currents of ∼30 cm/s during the event provided a “tailwind” that assisted the down-canyon movement of the turbidity current and its sediment plume. High-resolution velocity measurements suggested that the turbidity current was likely the result of a local canyon wall slumping near the 1300 m mooring. Frequent occurrences, in both space and time, of such weak sediment transport events could be an important mechanism to cascade sediment and other particles, and to help sustain the vibrant ecosystems in deep-sea canyons.

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