Hyperpycnal flow has been a topic of much discussion in the last decade, with several studies having been conducted on very recent delta front systems and recent submarine fan systems (Normark and Piper; Mulder and Syvitski, 1995; Piper and Savoye, 1993). But in most of these studies, the attempt to distinguish between hyperpycnal flow and slumping as causes of turbidity currents is all but clear. Excellent exposure of clinothems of the Battfiellet Formation offers an opportunity to decipher this problem. The most critical aspect of this research is the ability to follow a single sedimentary layer, ie. a single turbidite, from its downdip reaches on the slope to its updip reaches in the delta mouth-bar.
According to Kneller, 1995, both uniformity and steadiness can be used to characterize flows that result in the deposition of turbidites. Sustained flows with relatively constant discharge for long periods, including hyperpycnal flows, will produce a different deposit than short duration surge-type flows such as a slumped flow. The sustained flows should produce a sedimentary package that might include massive sands or sequences of climbing ripples, and in the downdip direction the grain size should decrease. The surge-type flow, ie. slumped flow, should produce a sedimentary package that is normally graded and becomes thinner and finer-grained down dip. In the slope deposits on Spitsbergen, single turbidite layers will be followed, and using Kneller’s model, a linkage between the turbidite and hyperpycnal flow or slumping will be made.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90925©1999 AAPG Foundation Grants-in-Aid