Submarine sedimentation on a developing Holocene fan delta



The submarine morphology, sediments, and three-dimensional geometry of a developing fan delta are described using data from acoustic surveys, bottom sampling, and observations from a manned submersible. The fan system is being built in a British Columbian fjord (water depth 410 m) supplied with coarse-grained sediments from a fjord-side river.

Construction of the subaqueous fan began about 10–12,000 yr BP and is ongoing. The system is analogous to part of one fault-uplift sedimentation cycle in ancient fan deltas. Initially, when offshore relief was at a maximum, acoustically chaotic sediment wedges were emplaced over fjord-bottom glaciomarine deposits. Subsequent aggradation/progradation resulted in moderately dipping sequences interrupted by local chaotic units. The present fan surface (average slope 13°) is divided into six zones arranged concentrically from the fan apex, on the basis of form, sediment and process interpretations. Continued subaqueous fan growth results from settling of river-derived sediments from suspension and downslope sediment dispersal by episodic gravity flows, apparently fed by underflows from the river.