Glacimarine sedimentary processes, facies and morphology of the south-southeast Alaska shelf and fjords

Marine Geology



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High precipitation from Gulf of Alaska air masses can locally reach up to 800 cm a-1. This precipitation on tectonically active mountains creates cool-temperate glaciation with extremely active erosion and continuously renewed resources. High basal debris loads up to 1.5 m thick of pure debris and rapid glacial flow, which can be more than 3000 m a-1, combine to produce large volumes of siliciclastic glacimarine sediment at some of the highest sediment accumulation rates on record. At tidewater fronts of valley glaciers, sediment accumulation rates can be over 13 m a-1 and deltas commonly grow at about 106 m3 a-1. Major processes influencing glacimarine sedimentation are glacial transport and glacier-contact deposition, meltwater (subaerial and submarine) and runoff transport and deposition, iceberg rafting and gouging, sea-ice transport, wave action and storm reworking, tidal transport and deposition, alongshelf transport, sliding and slumping and gravity flows, eolian transport, and biogenic production and reworking. Processes are similar in both shelf and fjord settings; however, different intensities of some processes create different facies associations and geometries. The tectonoclimatic regime also controls morphology because bedrock structure is modified by glacial action. Major glacimarine depositional systems are all siliciclastic. They are subglacial, marginal-morainal bank and submarine outwash, and proglacial/paraglacial-fluvial/deltaic, beach, tidal flat/estuary, glacial fjord, marine outwash fjord and continental shelf. Future research should include study of long cores with extensive dating and more seismic surveys to evaluate areal and temporal extent of glacial facies and glaciation; time-series oceanographic data, sidescan sonar surveys and submersible dives to evaluate modern processes; biogenic diversity and production to evaluate paleoecological, paleobiogeographic and biofacies analysis; and detailed comparisons of exposed older rock of the Yakataga Formation to evaluate how glacial style has evolved over 6.3 Ma. ?? 1989.

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Glacimarine sedimentary processes, facies and morphology of the south-southeast Alaska shelf and fjords
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Marine Geology
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Marine Geology
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