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Morphology and curvature of delta slopes in Swiss lakes: lessons for the interpretation of clinoforms in seismic data

Authors

  • Erwin W. Adams,

    1. 1 Institute of Earth Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands (E-mail: adae@geo.vu.nl) 2Geologisches Institut, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH, Sonneggstrasse 5, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland
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  • 1 Wolfgang Schlager,

    1. 1 Institute of Earth Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands (E-mail: adae@geo.vu.nl) 2Geologisches Institut, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH, Sonneggstrasse 5, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland
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  • and 1 Flavio S. Anselmetti 2

    1. 1 Institute of Earth Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands (E-mail: adae@geo.vu.nl) 2Geologisches Institut, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH, Sonneggstrasse 5, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland
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Abstract

Seismic surveys were conducted and bathymetric data obtained from four alpine lakes in Switzerland. The curvature of the delta slopes was analysed with mathematical equations. Linear or exponential profiles are observed, representing planar or concave morphologies respectively. Planar profiles are interpreted to represent sediment that rests at the angle-of-repose. The slope angle of these profiles shows a correlation with sediment calibre. Exponential profiles do not show a clear correlation between sediment calibre and slope angle; they do not rest at the angle-of-repose, and different kinds of sediment can rest at the same slope angle. At the transition from lower slope to toe- of-slope, the exponential equation fails to predict the present-day morphology. The toe-of-slope lies above the predicted trend. This is attributed to a drastic increase in turbidite deposition that provides additional sediment and raises the basin-floor profile above the predicted trend. The breaks between delta plain and slope are sharp, reflecting an abrupt change from transport by river flow and waves to gravity-driven transport. In these lakes, the base-level fluctuations relative to supply are small and insufficient to alter this sharp topographic break. The absence of sigmoidal profiles on the Swiss deltas is attributed to the high rate of progradation coupled with small fluctuations in base level.

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