Confluences are geomorphologic features fed by distinct channel tributaries that record the contribution of multiple sediment sources. They are key features of both fluvial and submarine channels in geomorphologic and sedimentologic terms. Here, we use high-quality three-dimensional seismic data from SE Brazil to document the response of a submarine channel confluence to turbidity currents originating from a tributary. The studied channel system consists of a west tributary, an east tributary, and a postconfluence channel, with the last two comprising the main channel at present. Downstream from the confluence, changes in planform morphology and architecture were found due to the effect of turbidity currents sourced from the west tributary channel. A channel bend in the main channel curved toward the west when it was first formed but later curved toward the east, and so remains until the present day. This process led to the migration of the confluence point ∼500 m to the east, and changed the bed morphology from discordant (where the beds of tributaries and main channels meet at an unequal depth) to concordant (where the beds of tributaries and main channels meet at approximately the same depth). In addition to the channel bend near the confluence, two other bends further downstream recorded significant changes with time, increasing channel sinuosity from 1.11 to 1.72. These three channel bends near the confluence accumulated a large volume of sediment at their inner banks, generating depositional bars. Multiple channel forms within the depositional bars indicate the occurrence of large-scale lateral migration near the confluence. Hence, turbidity currents from the west tributary are shown to influence the submarine channel by promoting lateral channel migration, confluence migration, increases in channel sinuosity, and the formation of large depositional bars. These variations near the confluence reveal a change in tributary activity and a shift in sediment sources from east to west on the continental shelf. Such a shift suggests variations in sedimentary processes on the continental shelf probably due to avulsions on Doce River Delta.
Effect of channel tributaries on the evolution of submarine channel confluences (Espírito Santo Basin, SE Brazil)
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Yongpeng Qin, Tiago M. Alves, José Antonio Constantine, Davide Gamboa, Shiguo Wu; Effect of channel tributaries on the evolution of submarine channel confluences (Espírito Santo Basin, SE Brazil). GSA Bulletin doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/B35082.1
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