08 Nov 2022
08 Nov 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

Evolution of submarine canyon-fan systems in fault-controlled margins: Insights from physical experiments

Steven Y. J. Lai1, David Amblas2, Aaron Micallef3, Thomas P. Gerber4, and Hérve Capart5 Steven Y. J. Lai et al.
  • 1Department of Hydraulic and Ocean Engineering, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan
  • 2GRC Geociències Marines, Dept. de Dinàmica de la Terra i de l’Oceà, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  • 3Marine Geology and Seafloor Surveying, Dept. of Geosciences, University of Malta, Msida, Malta
  • 4Equinor - Research and Technology, Austin, Texas, USA
  • 5Department of Civil Engineering, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

Abstract. Different fault settings make the morphology of submarine canyon-fan systems on active margins complex and diverse. In this study we explore the continuum of erosion, transport and sedimentation processes taking place in fault-controlled canyon-fan systems by using physical experiments and a morphodynamic model. Based on morphometric analyses we show how Hack’s scaling relationships exist in submarine canyons and fans. The DEM of differences (DoDs) demonstrate the growth patterns and allow to establish relevant relationships between volumes of canyons and their corresponding fans. We reveal strong self-similarities on canyon-fan long profiles and, through a new morphodynamic model, we capture their evolution over time, including the trajectory of internal moving boundaries. We observe that fault slip rate controls the merging speed of coalescent submarine canyon-fan systems and, when coupling fault slip rate with inflow discharge, a competitive influence arises. In this study we also uncover scaling relationships spanned from laboratory to field-scale. Overall, our findings are inspiring and valuable for field investigators and modelers to better interpret and predict the morphological evolution and sedimentary processes of submarine canyon-fan systems in active fault settings.

Steven Y. J. Lai et al.

Status: open (until 04 Jan 2023)

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Steven Y. J. Lai et al.

Steven Y. J. Lai et al.


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Short summary
The results support that strong scaling relationships exist in both laboratory-scale and field scale submarine canyon-fan systems. We propose that fault slip rate controls the convergence and merging speed of submarine canyon-fan systems, which in turn affects their number and spacing. We further propose a general rule to predict fan volumes by using canyon lengths.