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ABSTRACT

Experimental results are reported concerning the nature of reflected flows generated when density currents are incident upon ramp-type flow obstructions. The reflected flows are bores (moving hydraulic jumps that transport mass) with flow characteristics in common with either a group of solitary waves (weak Type A bores) or the original density current (strong Type C bores). Alternatively, the bore may have attributes in common with both of these end-member forms (intermediate Type B bores). Bore strength is positively correlated with the ratio of reverse flow thickness to that of the residual tail of the forward flow. The largest values of this ratio occur when ‘proximal’reflections arrive at the steeper ramps. Measured particle paths in the bores indicate that natural examples will have the potential to transport and deposit sediment. Strong bores have velocity characteristics very similar to the original current and thus in nature the generated sequence of sedimentary structures will resemble those of the original depositing current. The train of solitary waves that make up a weak bore sequence exhibits a pulsating velocity profile at a point. Such flows may thus generate repeated sequences of structures separated by fine ‘drapes’that are distinguishable from the deposits of the original turbidity current. These conclusions are applied to examples of reflected turbidites described from the Palaeozoic to Quaternary sedimentary record.