A detailed bathymetric study of Astoria Canyon and Astoria Fan provides a model for typical submarine canyon-fan systems. The present canyon head is 9 miles (17 km) west of the Columbia River mouth but buried Pleistocene channels appear to have connected the two features in the past. The canyon, which is distinguished by its relief, V-shaped profiles, and numerous tributaries, winds sinuously and is coincident with apparent structural trends across the continental shelf and slope. At the fan apex, the canyon mouth merges smoothly into Astoria Channel, which is characterized by its U-shaped profiles, lower walls of even height, and levee development. Astoria Channel and the fan valley at the base of the continental slope are the most recently active of a series of main fan valleys that appear to have: (1) progressively "hooked left"; (2) migrated from north to south across the fan during its formation; and (3) been partly responsible for the asymmetrical shape of the fan. The deep, narrow upper fan valleys that characterize the steep (> 1:100, or 0??35???) and rough (10-30 fathoms, or 18-55 m) upper fan surface break into distributaries on the middle fan, where there is the sharpest change in gradient. The main valleys become broader and shallower down the fan, while the generally concave fan surface grades to nearly a flat seafloor (to gradients < 1:1000, or 0??0.5???), (< 10 fathoms, or 18 m relief). Similarity of Astoria Canyon-Fan system with other deep-sea fan and alluvial fan systems, suggests the hypothesis that size of drainage basin, sediment size, and sediment load control the size, gradient, and valley development of any fan system. Data from bathymetry, seismic refraction stations, and sediment load of the Columbia River indicate that the cutting of Astoria Canyon and the deposition of the unconsolidated sediment layer forming Astoria Fan could have been accomplished during the Pleistocene. A similar history can be suggested for other major submarine canyon-fan systems. ?? 1970.
Additional publication details
Development of the Astoria Canyon-Fan physiography and comparison with similar systems