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Benthic biology influences sedimentation in submarine channel bends: Coupling of biology, sedimentation and flow

Azpiroz-Zabala, M.; Sumner, E. J.; Cartigny, M. J.B.; Peakall, J.; Clare, M. A.; Darby, S. E.; Parsons, D. R.; Dorrell, R. M.; Özsoy, E.; Tezcan, D.; Wynn, R. B.; Johnson, J.


M. Azpiroz-Zabala

E. J. Sumner

M. J.B. Cartigny

J. Peakall

M. A. Clare

S. E. Darby

D. R. Parsons

E. Özsoy

D. Tezcan

R. B. Wynn


Submarine channels are key features for the transport of flow and nutrients into deep water. Previous studies of their morphology and channel evolution have treated these systems as abiotic, and therefore assume that physical processes are solely responsible for morphological development. Here, a unique dataset is utilised that includes spatial measurements around a channel bend that hosts active sediment gravity flows. The data include flow velocity and density, alongside bed grain size and channel-floor benthic macrofauna. Analysis of these parameters demonstrate that while physical processes control the broadest scale variations in sedimentation around and across the channel, benthic biology plays a critical role in stabilising sediment and trapping fines. This leads to much broader mixed grain sizes than would be expected from purely abiotic sedimentation, and the maintenance of sediment beds in positions where all the sediment should be actively migrating. Given that previous work has also shown that submarine channels can be biological hotspots, then the present study suggests that benthic biology probably plays a key role in channel morphology and evolution, and that these need to be considered both in the modern and when considering examples preserved in the rock record.


Azpiroz-Zabala, M., Sumner, E. J., Cartigny, M. J., Peakall, J., Clare, M. A., Darby, S. E., …Johnson, J. (2024). Benthic biology influences sedimentation in submarine channel bends: Coupling of biology, sedimentation and flow. The Depositional Record,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 15, 2023
Online Publication Date Jan 29, 2024
Publication Date 2024
Deposit Date Feb 19, 2024
Publicly Available Date Feb 20, 2024
Journal Depositional Record
Electronic ISSN 2055-4877
Publisher International Association of Sedimentologists
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Gravity flow; Interplay flow-sediment-biology; Subaqueous channel evolution; Submarine channel bend
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Copyright Statement
© 2024 The Authors. The Depositional Record published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Association of Sedimentologists.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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