The evolution of submarine channels under the influence of Coriolis forces: experimental observations of flow structures

Authors

  • Remo Cossu,

    1. Department of Physical & Environmental Sciences, Earth Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, 22 Russell Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3B1, Canada
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  • Mathew G. Wells

    1. Department of Physical & Environmental Sciences, University of Toronto, 1265 Military Trail, Toronto, Ontario M1C 1A4, Canada
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Dr Remo Cossu, Department of Physical & Environmental Sciences, Earth Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, 22 Russell Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3B1, Canada. Tel.: +1 416 978 0833; e-mail: remo.cossu@utoronto.ca

Abstract

Terra Nova, 25, 65–71, 2013

Abstract

We present results from experimental gravity and turbidity currents to show that at high latitudes, the Coriolis effect strongly influences the internal flow structure in submarine channel systems. At high latitudes, Coriolis forces deflect the downstream velocity core, and consequently areas of deposition and erosion, to one side of the channel system. Over time, this supports the evolution of low-sinuosity submarine channels. These findings help explain the recently found relation that channels at low latitudes often show strongly sinuous planform geometries, whereas channels at high latitudes tend to be much less sinuous. On the basis of our observations and an existing conceptual model for channel evolution, we propose a process model for sedimentation regimes in turbidity currents, which is applicable to all latitudinal settings.

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