Abstract

We present preliminary laboratory experimental results that demonstrate lobe switching in a turbidite fan. After a significant number of individual event beds (more than eight) in both experimental fans made in this study, the flow began to focus itself into a lobe, at the center of which appeared a subtle channel-form. Initial lobe switching occurred after nearly twenty event beds. Subsequent switching appeared to scale with lobe size and sedimentation rate. The densest, coarsest runs tended to initiate the switching of the depocenter. Instabilities within the turbidity current itself appear to be responsible for initial flow confinement to a lobe and ultimate switching events. Currently untreated scale effects and measurement difficulties limit quantitative extension of the results to natural settings, though some general relationships are proposed.

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