Anatomy and growth of a Holocene clinothem in the Gulf of Papua



[1] High-resolution seismic profiles and sedimentological data from grab samples and long cores provide an unprecedented picture of the structure, sedimentology, and late Quaternary development of two Gulf of Papua (GoP) clinothems, one probably Stage 3 and 4 in age and one Holocene in age. The older was partially eroded during Stage 2 and partially covered by the younger clinothem during Stage 1. The younger clinothem consists of three stratigraphic units separated by two surfaces of erosion, bypass, or correlative surfaces of lap. The surfaces were formed by changes in accommodation and sediment supply. The underlying physiography of the older clinothem also appears to play an important role in governing the shape of the younger clinothem. In the northern gulf, oblique clinoforms of the younger clinothem suggest that the rate of sediment supply from the northern rivers outstripped the formation of new accommodation, whereas in the south, sigmoidal clinoforms indicate that accommodation increased faster than sediment supply. The origin of the new accommodation remains uncertain because of limited age constraints. On the basis of sediment thickness, stratal geometry, and acoustic character, off-shelf transport appears to be the dominant sediment transport direction, with preferential accumulation on the promontories and bypass in the valleys. Presently, observed and computed modern flows and complex gyres in shallow water coupled with wave- and current-supported gravity flows or river floods can explain the form, internal clinoform shapes, and mineralogy of the younger Gulf of Papua clinothem.