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Global monitoring data shows grain size controls turbidity current structure
  • +13
  • Daniela Vendettuoli,
  • Michael Andrew Clare,
  • Esther Joanne Sumner,
  • Matthieu J.B. Cartigny,
  • Peter Talling,
  • Jon Wood,
  • Lewis Bailey,
  • Maria Azpiroz-Zabala,
  • Charles K Paull,
  • Roberto Gwiazda,
  • Cooper D Stacey,
  • Gwyn Lintern,
  • Stephen M Simmons,
  • Ed L Pope,
  • Sophie Hage,
  • Jinping Xu
Daniela Vendettuoli
National Oceanography Centre

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Michael Andrew Clare
National Oceanography Centre Southampton
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Esther Joanne Sumner
University of Southampton
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Matthieu J.B. Cartigny
University of Durham
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Peter Talling
University of Durham, U.K.
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Jon Wood
Ocean Data Technologies, Inc.
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Lewis Bailey
National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton; School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton
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Maria Azpiroz-Zabala
Delft University of Technology
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Charles K Paull
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
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Roberto Gwiazda
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
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Cooper D Stacey
Geological Survey of Canada
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Gwyn Lintern
Geological Survey of Canada, Institute of Ocean Science
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Stephen M Simmons
University of Hull
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Ed L Pope
Durham University
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Sophie Hage
Department of Geoscience, Calgary University
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Jinping Xu
Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, China
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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.