Muir Inlet in Glacier Bay, Alaska, is a glacial fjord receiving a tremendous volume of sediment annually. The rate of sediment accumulation is greatest proximal to Muir Glacier (about 9 m yr-1) and decreases away from the glacier. The primary sediment sources are meltwater streams discharging at subglacial and ice-marginal positions to form overflows, interflows, and underflows (continuous turbidity currents). Overflows and interflows interact with diurnal tidal currents and their volume and sediment concentration varies diurnally and annually with meltwater discharge. These effects produce cyclic deposits of a thin fine-grained sand or silt lamina that grades normally to a thicker poorly to very poorly sorted mud lamina. This lamina couplet is termed a cyclopel. Underflows are suggested to occur in this glacimarine environment because of conditions unique to subglacial fluvial systems. Underflow deposits occur only in proximal positions (<0.5 km from glacier face), and are coarse-grained, reverse to normal graded, and exhibit an increase in sorting and sand content up-layer. Ice-rafted debris (identified as particles >177 ??m) is ubiquitous, though low (<5% by weight), and occurs as isolated particles, frozen pellets, or as lenses that in cores may have a lamina appearance. Proximally, ice-rafted debris is difficult to identify because proximal sediment is often as coarse-grained. Deposited sediment may be reworked by tidal currents, and sediment gravity flows. Depositional processes operating in Muir Inlet produce interlaminated sand/silt/clay that characterizes sediment proximal to a glacier and fines seaward to mud. Sediment is classified into one of three sediment types: 1. (1) Type I sediment is very fine grained (mean 8.65-7.17 ??), low in sand (0.1-11.2%), and very poorly to poorly sorted. It is the dominant sediment type in Muir Inlet, and is transported by plumes and deposited by suspension settling. 2. (2) Type II sediment is fine- to coarse-grained (mean 6.70-3.12 ??), low to high in sand (5.1-86.6%), and very poorly to moderately sorted. It represents reworked sediment, proximal plume deposits, or coarse-grained laminae of cyclopels. 3. (3) Type III sediment is coarse-grained (mean 3.89-2.38 ??), high in sand (58.0-100.0%), and poorly to well sorted. It is deposited by sediment gravity flows or underflows. ?? 1984.
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Interlaminated ice-proximal glacimarine sediments in Muir Inlet, Alaska