Terrigenous sedimentation processes along the continental margin off NW Africa: implications from grain-size analysis of seabed sediments

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Abstract

The terrigenous fraction of seabed sediments recovered along the north-west African continental margin illustrates spatial variability in grain size attributed to different transport mechanisms. Three subpopulations are determined from the grain-size analyses (n = 78) of the carbonate-free silt fraction applying an end-member modelling algorithm (G. J. Weltje, 1997). The two coarsest end-members are interpreted as representing aeolian dust, and the fine-grained end-member is related to fluvial supply. The end-member model thus allows aeolian fallout to be distinguished from fluvial-sourced mud in this area. The relative contributions of the end-members show distinct regional variations that can be related to different transport processes and pathways. Understanding present-day sediment dispersal and mixing is important for a better understanding of older sedimentary records and palaeoclimate reconstructions in the region.

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