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Decadal Turbidite Recurrence Intervals Recorded in a Giant Scour on Eel Fan, California

Paull, C.K.; McGann, M.; Edwards, B.D.; Barnes, P.; Gwiazda, R.; Lundsten, E.M.; Anderson, K.; Sumner, E., and Caress, D.W.
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Analysis of an exceptional exposure of thinly bedded turbidites in the headwall of a giant submarine scour on Eel Submarine Fan reveals that turbidites were being emplaced with a remarkably high frequency during the late Pleistocene to early Holocene. ROV observations, vibracores and push cores show an 87 m thick outcrop of fine-grained turbidites that are between 3 and 40 cm thick. The turbidites are composed of fining-upwards cycles grading from fine or very fine sand through to silty-mud. Within turbidites reversals in grain size occur representing fluctuating flow conditions. An abundance of woody material and shallow dwelling foraminifera within the turbidites demonstrates the flows originated in shallow water. The silty-mud horizons are barren of pelagic foraminifera, suggesting that they are the late stages of turbidites and that intervening hemipelagic material is absent. Twenty-one 14C measurements made on the transported shallow-water foraminifera and wood fragments within eighteen push cores taken from the scarp reveal that the entire 87 m section was deposited 6 to 14 thousand years BP. Shipboard video observations indicate the appearance of the scarp face is similar throughout the exposed face. In a 10 m section with excellent video, 88 turbidites were counted. Assuming that the entire 87 m face comprises the same rhythmic alterations, more than 766 turbidites were deposited during this ~8,000 year interval. This requires a decadal turbidite recurrence interval. As these deposits are downstream of the Eel River, these data have intriguing implications about the enhanced impact of the Eel River during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90162©2013 Pacific Section AAPG, SPE and SEPM Joint Technical Conference, Monterey, California, April 19-25, 2013