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Title: Emplacement of massive deposits by sheet flow

Turbidity current and coastal storm deposits are commonly characterized by a basal sandy massive (structureless) unit overlying an erosional surface and underlying a parallel or cross‐laminated unit. Similar sequences have been recently identified in fluvial settings as well. Notwithstanding field, laboratory and numerical studies, the mechanisms for emplacement of these massive basal units are still under debate. It is well accepted that the sequence considered here can be deposited by waning‐energy flows, and that the parallel‐laminated units are deposited under transport conditions corresponding to upper plane bed at the dune–antidune transition. Thus, transport conditions that are more intense than those at the dune–antidune transition should deposit massive units. This study presents experimental, open‐channel flow results showing that sandy massive units can be the result of gradual deposition from a thick bedload layer of colliding grains called sheet flow layer. When this layer forms with relatively coarse sand, the non‐dimensional bed shear stress associated with skin friction, the Shields number, is larger than a threshold value approximately equal to 0·4. For values of the Shields number smaller than 0·4 the sheet flow layer disappeared, sediment was transported by a standard bedload layer one or two grain diameters thick, and the bed configuration was characterized by downstream migrating antidunes and washed out dunes. Parallel laminae were found in deposits emplaced with standard bedload transport demonstrating that the same dilute flow can gradually deposit the basal and the parallel‐laminated unit in presence of traction at the depositional boundary. Further, the experiments suggested that two different types of upper plane bed conditions can be defined, one associated with standard bedload transport at the dune–antidune transition, and the other associated with bedload transport in sheet flow mode at the transition between upstream and downstream migrating antidunes.

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p. 1951-1972
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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