Nature: Meltwater sediment transport as the dominating process in mid-latitude trough mouth fan formation

A huge congratulations to the authors of the Nature Communications article “Meltwater sediment transport as the dominating process in mid-latitude trough mouth fan formation”:  Benjamin Bellwald1, Sverre Planke1,2,3, Lukas W. M. Becker4 and Reidun Myklebust5. A popularized summary of the article can be found here.

1Volcanic Basin Petroleum Research AS (VBPR), Oslo, Norway
2Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics (CEED), University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
3Research Centre for Arctic Petroleum Exploration (ARCEx), UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
4Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
5TGS, Asker, Norway

Abstract: 

Trough mouth fans comprise the largest sediment deposits along glaciated margins, and record Pleistocene climate changes on a multi-decadal time scale. Here we present a model for the formation of the North Sea Fan derived from detailed horizon and attribute interpretations of high-resolution processed 3D seismic reflection data. The interpretation shows that stacked channel-levee systems form up to 400 m thick sedimentary sequences. The channels are elongated and can be traced from the shelf edge towards the deep basin for distances of >150 km, and document long-distance sediment transport in completely disintegrated water-rich turbidite flows. Downslope sediment transport was a continuous process during shelf-edge glaciations, reaching accumulation rates of 100 m/kyr. Our data highlight that exceptionally large volumes of meltwater may discharge to the slopes of trough mouth fans and trigger erosive turbidite flows. We conclude that freshwater supply is likely an underestimated factor for sedimentary processes during glacial cycles.

Reference: 

Bellwald, B.; Planke, S.; Becker, L.W.M; Myklebust, R. (2020): Meltwater sediment transport as the dominating process in mid-latitude trough mouth fan formation. Nature Communications volume 11, Article number: 4645 (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18337-4. [intranet]