Abstract

The head of Carmel Submarine Canyon lies in 15 m of water about 200 m off a coarse-sand beach in the southeast corner of Carmel Bay, California. Very coarse sand is the predominate material on the beach, adjacent shelf, and upper canyon-head slopes, while silt and clay cover the surface below a water depth of about 35 m. Along a shore-normal transect, median grain size decreases between the beach and canyon rim but increases down the upper canyon-head slope. On angle-of-repose slopes in the upper canyon head, downslope-coarsening deposits, which are everywhere there is active sand movement, are similar to a type of sediment gravity flow deposit formed by grain flows (sand avalanches). Using three sand fractions that were dyed different fluorescent colors, scuba divers generated sand avalanches that produced deposits similar to the natural deposits. The dyed-sand deposits, which extended as far as 25 m below the initiation point, were inversely graded and increased in grain size downslope. Inverse grading was well developed within two m of the initiation point, though the thicknesses of the three layers varied in a nonsystematic manner both across and down slope. The minor amount of native material found within the dyed-sand layers showed that entrainment of the underlying sand was minimal.

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