Abstract

Transformation of turbidity currents into debris flows across a channel-to-lobe transition zone was recognized on the basis of lateral mapping of a falling-stage-systems-tract deposit in the lower Pleistocene Otadai Formation submarine-fan sequence on the Boso Peninsula, Japan. The most proximal outcrops comprise 1 to 4 m thick turbidites, which are laterally equivalent to debrites encased in turbidites in outcrops farther down flow. Such turbidites and encased debrites were deposited from single flow events. The most distal outcrops comprise only thinner (2 to 40 cm thick) turbidites. Debrites contain many siltstone clasts and finer-grained sediments, which are characterized by deep-water faunas and clay-mineral composition similar to those of interbedded hemipelagites. Therefore, the transformation of turbidity currents into debris flows is interpreted to have occurred in response to the incorporation of many siltstone clasts and finer-grained sediment particles into the precursor turbidity currents through erosion of muddy substrates. Subsequently, turbulence in the precursor turbidity currents was suppressed and near-bed flow with higher sediment concentration developed. Intense erosion of muddy substrates is interpreted to have occurred in response to the increase in intensity of turbulence in the precursor turbidity currents at the mouths of middle-fan channels. The precursor turbidity currents (or turbidity currents generated by dilution of debris flows) produced a turbidite deposit, which was subsequently overrun by the debris flow in a proximal lobe environment. The debris flows are interpreted to have subsequently been transformed into turbidity currents, which are recorded by turbidite deposition in the more distal-lobe environment. Debrites can characterize the proximal portion of an attached-lobe deposit in a channel-to-lobe transition zone. Such debrites can be significant heterogeneities for fluid flows in sand-prone successions from middle-fan channel to attached-lobe deposits.

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