The heads of submarine canyons represent a critical link in the transfer of sediment from terrestrial sediment sources to deep basin sinks. Data from modern canyons and submarine fans suggests the strength of this connection determines the proportion and caliber of sediment stored in shelfal environments relative to that which is transferred to deep-water. Sweet and Blum document data on grain size, bathymetry and geochronology from twenty-four modern submarine canyons that demonstrate this link to be very sensitive to the distance between the canyon head and the shoreline, and, to a lesser extent, wave energy. A surprising observation from these data is the close relationship between the transport of grains of sand-size and coarser clasts and the distance between the river mouth or shoreline and the head of the submarine canyon. These data show the width of this zone filters the caliber of sediment delivered into deep-water with important implications for understanding sediment budgets and reservoir and seal distribution.
Connections between fluvial to shallow marine environments and submarine canyons: implications for sediment transfer to deep water by Michael L. Sweet and Michael D. Blum