We used laser particle size analysis (LPSA) to quantitatively analyze grain-size characteristics from distal Mississippi submarine fan deposits (Gulf of Mexico) and relate them to established depositional models along the spectrum of sediment gravity flows. One hundred and seventy-nine (179) sediment samples from 22 beds were obtained from cores of Deep Sea Drilling Project Leg 96 Sites 614, 615, and 621. The sediment from Sites 614 and 615 was ­deposited in lobes ~500 km downstream from the Mississippi canyon head. Most samples were described as sand from visual inspection of cores, containing >75% volume of sand grains, with clay content <5% based on LPSA. A muddy sand definition was given to sands comprising >20% silt and finer grains, with generally higher clay content (3%–16%). However, LPSA data show that facies assignments from visual core description overestimated the proportion of sand grains: 15% of samples initially interpreted as sand contain <75% sand grains; 40% of muddy sand samples have <50% sand. Samples from lobes at Sites 614 and 615 were compared to samples from Site 621, where beds are sandier with a relatively narrow distribution of grain sizes deposited in a more proximal channel setting, <250 km from the canyon head. We interpret the large proportion of silt and finer grains in the distal lobes to reflect diminished turbulence within sediment gravity flows as they expand from confined to unconfined settings downstream of channel conduits. Entrainment of finer-grained sediment at the channel-to-lobe transition could have also contributed to larger proportions of silt and finer grains in ­distal lobes.

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