Advances in Earth Science ›› 2018, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (1): 52-65. doi: 10.11867/j.issn.1001-8166.2018.01.0052

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The Research Progress of Turbidity Currents and Related Deep-water Bedforms

Dawei Wang 1( ), Hongxin Bai 1, 2, Shiguo Wu 1, 2, 3   

  1. 1.Laboratory of Marine Geophysics and Georesource, Institute of Deep-sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya 572000, China
    2.University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049,China
    3.Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao 266237, China
  • Received:2017-09-30 Revised:2017-12-25 Online:2018-01-10 Published:2018-03-06
  • About author:

    First author:Wang Dawei(1976-), male, Suihua City, Heilongjiang Province, Associate professor. Research areas include marine geophysics, submarine

  • Supported by:
    Project supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China “Evolution and mechanism of deep-water gravity flow sediment cycles in the Qiongdongnan Basin, South China Sea” (No.41576049) and “Sedimentary architecture and mechanism of bedforms within submarine canyon out of the Pear River Estuary, South China Sea” (No.41666002)

Dawei Wang, Hongxin Bai, Shiguo Wu. The Research Progress of Turbidity Currents and Related Deep-water Bedforms[J]. Advances in Earth Science, 2018, 33(1): 52-65.

Since turbidity current was reported in the 19th century, its flow dynamics, depositional processes and products have drawn much attention of geoscience community. In the last decades, with the help of rapid development of geophysical technology in deep-water areas, superficial bedforms formed by turbidity currents like cyclic steps have been widely documented on the seafloor, and they have been interpreted to be closely related to turbidite facies defined by the Bouma sequence. However, there is still a lack of direct observation on turbidity currents due to difficulties in the design and deployment of flow-measuring instruments under the sea. Such difficulties also result in much uncertainties in the explanations for the formation of bedforms and related flow processes. This paper summarized and discussed current research status of turbidity-currents classification, the formation and evolution of bedforms. Examples of supercritical-bedform studies using various methods such as experiments, numerical simulation, bathymetric data and seismic data, were shown in this paper. As one of main supercritical flow bedforms, cyclic steps were described in detail in this paper, including its formation, evolution and relationship with Bouma sequence. The variations in initial bed morphology and hydrodynamic parameters are responsible for the changes in the shapes of bedforms. Turbidites formed under different hydrodynamic conditions correspond to different units of Bouma sequence. Not all turbidity events can form a complete Bouma sequence. Therefore, traditional Bouma sequence cannot be applied to all turbidite studies. A more complete turbidite facies model must be established through studies from modern deep-sea sediments, outcrops, physical and numerical simulations. Additionally, turbidity currents and related supercritical bedforms are receiving more and more attention. They are important components of understanding the dynamic evolution of deep-water continental slope. The study of cyclic steps and other bedforms related to turbidity currents not only helps to characterize flow dynamics, but also provides a theoretical basis for the research of turbidite reservoirs. Finally, we proposed future research directions of turbidity currents and their related supercritical bedforms.

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