Sediment Delivery to the Seabed on Continental Margins

  1. Charles A. Nittrouer,
  2. James A. Austin,
  3. Michael E. Field,
  4. Joseph H. Kravitz,
  5. James P. M. Syvitski and
  6. Patricia L. Wiberg
  1. Paul S. Hill1,
  2. Jason M. Fox1,
  3. John S. Crockett2,
  4. Kristian J. Curran1,
  5. Carl T. Friedrichs3,
  6. W. Rockwell Geyer4,
  7. Timothy G. Milligan5,
  8. Andrea S. Ogston2,
  9. Pere Puig6,
  10. Malcolm E. Scully3,
  11. Peter A. Traykovski4 and
  12. Robert A. Wheatcroft7

Published Online: 25 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304398.ch2

Continental Margin Sedimentation: From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy

Continental Margin Sedimentation: From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy

How to Cite

Hill, P. S., Fox, J. M., Crockett, J. S., Curran, K. J., Friedrichs, C. T., Geyer, W. R., Milligan, T. G., Ogston, A. S., Puig, P., Scully, M. E., Traykovski, P. A. and Wheatcroft, R. A. (2007) Sediment Delivery to the Seabed on Continental Margins, in Continental Margin Sedimentation: From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy (eds C. A. Nittrouer, J. A. Austin, M. E. Field, J. H. Kravitz, J. P. M. Syvitski and P. L. Wiberg), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304398.ch2

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4J1, Canada

  2. 2

    School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA

  3. 3

    Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, Gloucester Point, VA 23062-1346, USA

  4. 4

    Department of Applied Physics and Engineering, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA

  5. 5

    Habitat Ecology Division, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia B2Y 4A2, Canada

  6. 6

    Department of Marine Geology and Physical Oceanography, Institut de Ciencies del Mar (CSIC), Barcelona E-08003, Spain

  7. 7

    College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-5503, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 MAR 2009
  2. Published Print: 17 JUL 2007

Book Series:

  1. Special Publication Number 37 of the International Association of Sedimentologists

Book Series Editors:

  1. Ian Jarvis

Series Editor Information

  1. School of Earth Sciences & Geography, Centre for Earth & Environmental Science Research, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2EE, UK

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405169349

Online ISBN: 9781444304398



  • sediment delivery to seabed on continental margins;
  • early conceptual models;
  • sediment loss from discharge plumes;
  • advective transport in river plumes;
  • bottom-boundary-layer transport of flood sediment;
  • sediment delivery to eel margin;
  • fate of missing sediment;
  • Eel shelf from Cape Mendocino in south to Trinidad Head in north


On river-influenced continental margins, terrigenous muds tend to accumulate in the middle of the continental shelf. The common occurrence of mid-shelf mud belts has been attributed to three basic across-margin transport mechanisms. Muds either diffuse to the mid-shelf under the influence of storms, or they are advected there by oceanographic currents, or they arrive at the mid-shelf in dense suspensions that flow across the margin under the influence of gravity. Until recently, observations generally favoured the hypothesis that ocean currents are responsible for advecting dilute suspensions of mud to the mid-shelf. Transport by dense gravity flows was widely rejected, based primarily on the arguments that the bathymetric gradients of continental shelves are too small to sustain gravity flows, and that sediment concentrations cannot grow large enough to cause suspensions to flow down gradient. Observations conducted on the Eel River continental shelf off northern California, however, demonstrate that cross-margin transport by dense suspensions can be an important mechanism for the emplacement of muds on the mid-shelf. Dense suspensions form near the seabed when sediment in the wave boundary layer cannot deposit because of stress exerted on the bottom by waves, and when sediment does not diffuse out of the wave boundary layer because of relatively weak current-induced turbulence. In the future, the importance of these flows on other margins needs to be assessed.