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TVRG: Submarine canyons – flow processes and sedimentary deposits

15 June 2022
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Event type:
Conference, Regional Group, Virtual event
Organised by:
Geological Society Events, Thames Valley Regional Group
Virtual event
Event status:

Time and location

18:55 for a 19:00 start. Online via Zoom

Event details

Seabed-hugging flows called turbidity currents are the volumetrically most important process transporting sediment across our planet and form its largest sediment accumulations. We seek to understand the internal structure and behaviour of turbidity currents by collecting the most detailed direct measurements yet of velocities and densities within oceanic turbidity currents, obtained from flows that extend up to weeks in the Congo Canyon. I will discuss a new model for turbidity current structure that can explain why these flows are far more prolonged than all previously monitored oceanic turbidity currents, which lasted for only hours or minutes at other locations. The observed Congo Canyon flows consist of a short-lived zone of fast and dense fluid at their front, which outruns the slower moving body of the flow. We propose that the sustained duration of these turbidity currents results from flow stretching and that this stretching is characteristic of mud-rich turbidity current systems. The lack of stretching in previously monitored flows is attributed to coarser sediment that settles out from the body more rapidly. These prolonged seafloor flows rival the discharge of the Congo River and carry ~2% of the terrestrial organic carbon buried globally in the oceans each year through a single submarine canyon. Thus, this new structure explains sustained flushing of globally important amounts of sediment, organic carbon, nutrients, and fresh water into the deep ocean.


Prof Dan Parsons (University of Hull)

Prof Dan Parsons is an active researcher in areas related to fluvial, estuarine, coastal and deep marine sedimentary environments, exploring responses of these systems to climate and environmental change, for example understanding how evolving flood hazard translates to risk across the world and how this can impact populations within river basins and low-lying coastal environments. As the Director of the Energy and Environment Institute, University of Hull, he has gathered together a multidisciplinary team of over 130 researchers, has a portfolio of active research grants and projects of over £29M, and hosts flagship MSc programmes, including one addressing Flood Risk Management.


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Convenor Contact

Thames Valley Regional Group

Thames Valley Regional Group