Secondary flow in contour currents controls the formation of moat-drift contourite systems

Type Article
Date 2023-09
Language English
Author(s) Wilckens HenrietteORCID1, 2, Eggenhuisen Joris T.ORCID3, Adema Pelle H.ORCID3, Hernández-Molina F. Javier4, 5, Silva Jacinto Ricardo6, Miramontes EldaORCID1, 2
Affiliation(s) 1 : Faculty of Geosciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
2 : MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
3 : Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80021, TA, Utrecht, Netherlands
4 : Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK
5 : Marine Geosciences Division, CSIC & UGR, IACT, Armilla, Granada, Spain
6 : UMR 6538 GEO-OCEAN, Ifremer, Univ Brest, CNRS, Univ. Bretagne-Sud, Plouzané, France
Source Communications Earth & Environment (2662-4435) (Springer Science and Business Media LLC), 2023-09 , Vol. 4 , N. 1 , P. 316 (10p.)
DOI 10.1038/s43247-023-00978-0

Ocean currents control seafloor morphology and the transport of sediments, organic carbon, nutrients, and pollutants in deep-water environments. A better connection between sedimentary deposits formed by bottom currents (contourites) and hydrodynamics is necessary to improve reconstructions of paleocurrent and sediment transport pathways. Here we use physical modeling in a three-dimensional flume tank to analyse the morphology and hydrodynamics of a self-emerging contourite system. The sedimentary features that developed on a flat surface parallel to a slope are an elongated depression (moat) and an associated sediment accumulation (drift). The moat-drift system can only form in the presence of a secondary flow near the seafloor that transports sediment from the slope toward the drift. The secondary flow increases with higher speeds and steeper slopes, leading to steeper adjacent drifts. This study shows how bottom currents shape the morphology of the moat-drift system and highlights their potential to estimate paleo-ocean current strength.

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Wilckens Henriette, Eggenhuisen Joris T., Adema Pelle H., Hernández-Molina F. Javier, Silva Jacinto Ricardo, Miramontes Elda (2023). Secondary flow in contour currents controls the formation of moat-drift contourite systems. Communications Earth & Environment, 4(1), 316 (10p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :