The first detailed measurements from active turbidity currents have been
made in the last few years, at multiple sites worldwide. These data
allow us to investigate the factors that control the structure of these
flows. By analyzing the temporal evolution of the maximum velocity of
turbidity currents at different sites, we aim to understand whether
there are distinct types of flow, or if a continuum exists between
end-members; and to investigate the physical controls on the different
types of observed flow. Our results show that the evolution of the
maximum velocity of turbidity currents falls between two end-members.
Either the events show a rapid peak in velocity followed by an
exponential decay or, flows continue at a plateau-like, near constant
velocity. Our analysis suggests that rather than triggers or system
input type, flow structure is primarily governed by the grain size of
the sediment available for incorporation into the flow.