Long-term in situ observations on typhoon-triggered turbidity currents in the deep sea

Yanwei Zhang, Zhifei Liu, Yulong Zhao, Christophe Colin, Xiaodong Zhang, Meng Wang, Shaohua Zhao, Benjamin Charles Kneller

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Abstract

Turbidity currents regulate the transport of terrigenous sediment, abundant in carbon and nutrients, from the shelf to the deep sea. However, triggers of deep-sea turbidity currents are diverse and remain debatable in individual cases due to few direct measurements and unpredictable occurrence. Here we present long-term monitoring of turbidity currents at a water depth of 2104 m on the margin of the Gaoping Submarine Canyon off Taiwan, which has the world's highest erosion rates and wettest typhoons. The unique 3.5 year record of in situ observations demonstrates the frequent occurrence of deep-sea turbidity currents (an average of six times per year from May 2013 to October 2016), most of which show enhanced sediment flux, raised temperature, and lowered salinity. They are attributed to elevated discharge of the Gaoping River due to typhoons traversing Taiwan. The total duration of these prolonged turbidity currents amounts to 30% of the entire monitoring period, contributing to ~72% of total sediment transport in the lower canyon. Our study demonstrates for the first time that typhoons are the most important triggers, in the long term, of frequent turbidity currents and enhanced sediment delivery into the deep sea in the typhoon-river canyon environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-678
Number of pages4
JournalGeology
Volume46
Issue number8
Early online date22 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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turbidity current
typhoon
deep sea
canyon
sediment
submarine canyon
monitoring
erosion rate
river
sediment transport
in situ
water depth
salinity
nutrient
carbon
temperature

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Long-term in situ observations on typhoon-triggered turbidity currents in the deep sea. / Zhang, Yanwei; Liu, Zhifei; Zhao, Yulong; Colin, Christophe; Zhang, Xiaodong; Wang, Meng; Zhao, Shaohua; Kneller, Benjamin Charles.

In: Geology, Vol. 46, No. 8, 2018, p. 675-678.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Zhang, Y, Liu, Z, Zhao, Y, Colin, C, Zhang, X, Wang, M, Zhao, S & Kneller, BC 2018, 'Long-term in situ observations on typhoon-triggered turbidity currents in the deep sea', Geology, vol. 46, no. 8, pp. 675-678. https://doi.org/10.1130/G45178.1
Zhang, Yanwei ; Liu, Zhifei ; Zhao, Yulong ; Colin, Christophe ; Zhang, Xiaodong ; Wang, Meng ; Zhao, Shaohua ; Kneller, Benjamin Charles. / Long-term in situ observations on typhoon-triggered turbidity currents in the deep sea. In: Geology. 2018 ; Vol. 46, No. 8. pp. 675-678.
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AB - Turbidity currents regulate the transport of terrigenous sediment, abundant in carbon and nutrients, from the shelf to the deep sea. However, triggers of deep-sea turbidity currents are diverse and remain debatable in individual cases due to few direct measurements and unpredictable occurrence. Here we present long-term monitoring of turbidity currents at a water depth of 2104 m on the margin of the Gaoping Submarine Canyon off Taiwan, which has the world's highest erosion rates and wettest typhoons. The unique 3.5 year record of in situ observations demonstrates the frequent occurrence of deep-sea turbidity currents (an average of six times per year from May 2013 to October 2016), most of which show enhanced sediment flux, raised temperature, and lowered salinity. They are attributed to elevated discharge of the Gaoping River due to typhoons traversing Taiwan. The total duration of these prolonged turbidity currents amounts to 30% of the entire monitoring period, contributing to ~72% of total sediment transport in the lower canyon. Our study demonstrates for the first time that typhoons are the most important triggers, in the long term, of frequent turbidity currents and enhanced sediment delivery into the deep sea in the typhoon-river canyon environment.

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