Marine Geology

Sorting out submarine canyons

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Science  20 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6361, pp. 317-318
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6361.317-d

Monterey Canyon, CA. Bedrock type and sediment flux are the most important factors explaining the location of submarine canyons.

CREDIT: GOOGLE; (DATA) CSUMB SFML, CA OPC, MBARI, LDEO-COLUMBIA, NSF, NOAA, SIO, NOAA, U.S. NAVY, NGA, GEBCO

Submarine canyons, often found directly off the coastline, are common but understudied features of Earth. Despite their prevalence, what determines their location and morphology remains a mystery. Smith et al. used a massive data set from the entire western coast of the United States to determine what variables best correlated with underwater canyon formation. They found that the distribution of rock type and sediment flux were the most important factors for explaining the location of submarine canyons.

Geophys. Res. Lett. 10.1002/2017GL075139 (2017).

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