Possible Quick-Clay Motion in Turbidity Currents

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Science  10 Aug 1962:
Vol. 137, Issue 3528, pp. 420-421
DOI: 10.1126/science.137.3528.420


Sensitive clay masses that lie dormant for years but, as the result of a sudden shock, become turbulent, flowing mud, have been called quick clays. Such masses may move in quantity over almost flat terrain, and they exhibit the power to transport buildings and other heavy objects considerable distances. On theoretical grounds it is proposed that one of the elements in the flowage of turbidity currents on the ocean floor may be comparable to quick-clay flowage on land. Both types of flowage cover considerable areas, may move on a comparatively flat base, exhibit fairly rapid motion, involve masses of colloidal-size clay and detritus, exhibit powerful transporting power, involve porous material of high water content, and are initiated by some form of trigger action. While experimental data are inadequate for proof, the parallelism in these two forms of erosional movement warrants the suggestion that the mobile mechanisms responsible for mass transport may be similar in the two cases.