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ABSTRACT: Sedimentation in the Central Segment of the Aleutian Trench: Sources, Transport, and Depositional Style

A. J. Stevenson, M. B. Underwood, D. W. Scholl, T. L. Vallier

The central segment of the Aleutian Trench (162°W to 175°E) is an intraoceanic subduction zone that contains an anomalously thick sedimentary fill (4 km maximum). The fill is an arcward-thickening and slightly tilted wedge of sediment characterized acoustically by laterally continuous, closely spaced, parallel reflectors. These relations are indicative of turbidite deposition. The trench floor and reflection horizons are planar, showing no evidence of an axial channel or any transverse fan bodies. Cores of surface sediment recover turbidite layers, implying that sediment transport and deposition occur via diffuse, sheetlike, fine-grained

turbidite flows that occupy the full width of the trench. The mineralogy of Holocene trench sediments document a mixture of island-arc (dominant) and continental source terranes. GLORIA side-scan sonar images reveal a westward-flowing axial trench channel that conducts sediment to the eastern margin of the central segment, where channelized flow ceases. Much of the sediment transported in this channel is derived from glaciated drainages surrounding the Gulf of Alaska which empty into the eastern trench segment via deep-sea channel systems (Surveyor and others) and submarine canyons (Hinchinbrook and others). Insular sediment transport is more difficult to define. GLORIA images show the efficiency with which the actively growing accretionary wedge impounds sediment that manages to cros a broad fore-arc terrace. It is likely that island-arc sediment reaches the trench either directly via air fall, via recycling of the accretionary prism, or via overtopping of the accretionary ridges by the upper parts of thick turbidite flows.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91003©1990 AAPG Annual Convention, San Francisco, California, June 3-6, 1990