Flow dynamics and sedimentation of lateral accretion packages in sinuous deep-water channels: A 3D seismic case study from the northwestern South China Sea margin

Research paper by Shengli Li, Chenglin Gong

Indexed on: 07 May '16Published on: 06 May '16Published in: Journal of Asian Earth Sciences


The current study uses 3D seismic data to document architectural styles and flow dynamics of lateral accretion packages (LAPs) associated with sinuous deep-water channels, contributing to a better understanding of flow processes and sedimentation associated with LAPs. The documented LAPs underwent three main stages of architectural evolution, including the early incision stages characterized by intense downcutting, active migration stages characterized by active migration and avulsion of the individual channels, and late abandonment stages characterized by the termination of sediment gravity-flows and LAP growth. These three stages of LAP growth repeated through time, yielding a fining-upward pattern from sandy channel-fill turbidites, into sand-mud couplets, all capped by muddy turbidites. A river-reversed helical flow circulation was created by an imbalance, through the flow depth, of inwardly directed pressure gradient forces near the bed and outwardly directed centrifugal forces near the surface. It consists of low-velocity cores near the outer banks and low-velocity cores along the inner banks. Such river-reversed helical flow pattern is evidenced by volumetrically extensive LAPs and toplap and downlap terminations along the gentle banks and by aerially restricted, seismically unresolvable levees and truncation terminations near the steep banks. This river-reversed helical flow circulation favors asymmetric intra-channel deposition characterized by inner bank deposition versus outer bank erosion, and which, in turn, forced individual channels to consistently migrate towards outer banks, resulting in significant asymmetric cross-channel profiles with aerially extensive LAPs along inner banks.

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