|Transient erosion in the Valencia Trough turbidite systems, NW Mediterranean Basin
|Year of Publication
|Amblas D, Gerber TP, Canals M, Pratson LF, Urgeles R, Lastras G, Calafat AM
|Knickpoints, Long-profiles, Submarine canyons, Transient erosion, Turbidity currents
|Submarine canyons can efficiently drain sediments from continental margins just as river systems do in subaerial catchments. Like in river systems, submarine canyons are often arranged as complex drainage networks that evolve from patterns of erosion and deposition. In the present paper we use a morphometric analysis of submarine canyon-channel long-profiles to study the recent sedimentary history of the Valencia Trough turbidite system (VTTS) in the NW Mediterranean Sea. The VTTS is unique in that it drains sediment from margins with contrasting morphologies through a single "trunk" conduit, the Valencia Channel. The Valencia Channel has been active since the late Miocene, evolving in response to Plio-Quaternary episodes of erosion and deposition. The integrated analysis of long-profiles obtained from high-resolution bathymetric data across the entire turbidite system shows evidence for transient canyon incision in the form of knickpoints and hanging tributaries. Multiple factors appear to have triggered these periods of incision. These include a large debris flow at 11,500. yr. BP that disrupted the upper reaches of the VTTS and glacio-eustatic lowstands that forced shifting of sediment input to the VTTS. Based on these inferences, long-term time-averaged incision rates for the Valencia Channel have been estimated. The evidence we present strongly suggests that Foix Canyon has played a key role in the drainage dynamics of the VTTS in the past.This study builds conceptually on a recent modeling study that provides a morphodynamic explanation for the long-term evolution of submarine canyon thalweg profiles. The procedure and results from this work are of potential application to other submarine sediment drainage systems, past and present, including those containing mid-ocean type valleys like the Valencia Channel. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.