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Sediment accumulation in the western Gulf of Lions, France: The role of Cap de Creus Canyon in linking shelf and slope sediment dispersal systems

AutorDeGeest, A.L.; Mullenbach, B.L.; Puig, Pere ; Nittrouer, C.A.; Drexler, Tina M.; Durrieu de Madron, Xavier; Orange, D.L.
Palabras claveSubmarine canyon
Gulf of Lions
Fecha de publicación30-ago-2008
CitaciónContinental Shelf Research 28(15): 2031-2047 (2008)
ResumenPrevious work in the Gulf of Lions (western Mediterranean Sea) has suggested that significant amounts of sediment escape through the western part of this tectonically passive margin, despite it being far removed from the primary sediment source (the Rhone River, not, vert, similar160 km to the NE). The primary mechanism behind this export is hypothesized to be the interaction of a regional, southwestward sediment-transport path with a canyon deeply incising the southwestern part of the shelf, Cap de Creus Canyon. To understand the pattern of off-shelf sediment export from the western Gulf of Lions, and more specifically, the role of Cap de Creus Canyon in this transport, box cores were collected within the canyon and on the adjacent shelf during five cruises from November 2003 to April 2005. Geochronology (210Pb-derived accumulation rates), grain-size distributions, and sedimentary structures (X-radiography) were analyzed to assess temporal and spatial sedimentation patterns. Results indicate two mid-shelf depocenters (30–90 m water depth) in the northern and southern portions of the study area, separated by a zone of bypassing due to current acceleration around a headland (Cap Bear). Estimates of a sediment budget indicate that not, vert, similar6–8% of the sediment input to the Gulf is sequestered on the shelf region. Within the Cap de Creus Canyon, there is a significant spatial asymmetry in both grain size and accumulation rates. The northern flank is a modern depocenter of fine-grained sediments, while the southern flank is primarily non-depositional for mud and includes locations of apparent erosion. This suggests the influence of multiple oceanographic processes supplying sediment to the canyon: advection of nepheloid layers from the northern rim that provide a relatively continuous sediment supply (over decadal timescales), and episodic strong currents affecting the southern rim, which can scour sediment from the southern flank. The mid-depth thalweg has an ephemeral mud layer, overlying sand and consolidated mud. The mud layer appears to be flushed down canyon periodically. The canyon head contains coarse material, suggesting reworked sands may be entering. The 100-year sediment budget, based on accumulation rates for the fine-grained fraction in the upper canyon, indicates that not, vert, similar1% of the total sediment input to the Gulf is accumulating in upper Cap de Creus Canyon. However, this number may significantly underestimate the total sediment entering the canyon because water-column measurements show that sediment is likely moving through the upper canyon during major dense-water cascading events from the shelf and being deposited deeper in the canyon system. The ephemeral mud layer also indicates rapid deposition and frequent flushing of sediment through the upper canyon. Overall, this study shows that Cap de Creus Canyon is an active conduit of sediment past the shelf break, despite its location distal to the primary sediment source to the Gulf
DescripciónSpecial issue Sediment Dynamics in the Gulf of Lions; the Impact of Extreme Events.-- 17 pages, 10 figures, 4 tables
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.csr.2008.02.008
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