The role of buoyancy reversal in turbidite deposition and submarine fan geometry

Elisabeth Steel, James Buttles, Alexander R. Simms, David Mohrig, Eckart Meiburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Although recent work has shown that changing interstitial fluid density within turbidity currents is a frequently overlooked factor affecting the texture and internal architecture of turbidites, little is known about its influence on submarine fan morphology. Here we present the results of three-dimensional flume experiments of turbidity currents that clearly demonstrate the role of low-density interstitial fluid, in combination with sediment concentration and basin gradient, on submarine fan geometry. The experiments show that turbidity currents with reversing buoyancy, and their resulting deposits, are narrower than those that remain ground hugging. Furthermore, wider deposits result from increases in sediment concentration and/or basin-floor gradient. We also propose that Taylor-Görtler vortices associated with currents traveling over a break in slope may lead to the deposition of wider lobes compared with those traveling over a constant gradient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-38
Number of pages4
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgment is made to the Donors of the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund for support of this research. This work was also supported in part by a Geological Society of America Graduate Student Research Grant and the University of Texas CSU RioMAR Industry Consortium.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Geological Society of America.


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