High-resolution seismic, core, and chronological data from the Quaternary Golo deep-sea fans, offshore Corsica, France, give new insights into rates of submarine fan growth. Average vertical deposition rates for units that represent the Late Pleistocene glacial periods are 0.1–0.5 m/k.y. Glacial-age deposits are sand rich; in contrast, post-glacial deposits lack a significant sand fraction and are dominated by carbonate-rich mud. As a result, seismically constrained volumetric rates of deposition for glacial periods with low sea level and a subaerially exposed shelf are ∼0.23 km3/k.y., 2×–5× higher than rates during interglacials when sea level is high, the shelf is submerged, and sand is trapped in shallow-marine environments. At millennial time scales, variations in deposition rate reflect climate-driven sea-level changes, autogenic avulsion of river channels that extend across the shelf during low sea level, and autogenic avulsion of submarine channels that shift the locus of deposition laterally. Short-term deposition rates range from 8.6 m/k.y. at proximal portions of submarine fans to 0.4 m/k.y. along the distal fringe. Our data show that submarine fans can be dynamic environments with formation and evolution of levee-confined channels and lobe complexes in 103–104 yr, comparable to the time scales needed to form fluvial channel belts and delta lobes.

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