Circulation patterns on the shelf and at the shelf break appear to dominate the Barrow Canyon system. The canyon's shelf portion underlies and is maintained by the Alaska Coastal Current (A.C.C.), which flows northeastward along the coast toward the northeast corner of the broad Chukchi Sea. Offshelf and onshelf advective processes are indicated by oceanographic measurements of other workers. These advective processes may play an important role in the production of bedforms that are found near the canyon head as well as in processes of erosion or non-deposition in the deeper canyon itself. Coarse sediments recovered from the canyon axis at 400 to 570 m indicate that there is presently significant flow along the canyon. The canyon hooks left at a point north of Point Barrow where the A.C.C. loses its coastal constriction. The left hook, as well as preferential west-wall erosion, continues down to the abyssal plain of the Canada Basin at 3800 m. A possible explanation for the preferential west-wall erosion along the canyon, at least for the upper few hundred meters, is that the occasional upwelling events, which cause nutrient-rich water to flow along the west wall would in turn cause larger populations of burrowing organisms to live there than on the east wall, and that these organisms cause high rates of bioerosion. This hypothesis assumes that the dominant factor in the canyon's erosion is biological activity, not current velocity. Sedimentary bedforms consisting of waves and furrows are formed in soft mud in a region on the shelf west of the canyon head; their presence there perhaps reflects: (a) the supply of fine suspended sediments delivered by the A.C.C. from sources to the south, probably the Yukon and other rivers draining northwestern Alaska; and (b) the westward transport of these suspended sediments by the prevailing Beaufort Gyre which flows along the outer shelf. ?? 1982.
Additional publication details
Active geologic processes in Barrow Canyon, northeast Chukchi Sea