Mechanisms of muddy clinothem progradation on the Southwest Louisiana Chenier Plain inner shelf

Document Type


Publication Date



© 2017, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. In both modern and ancient shelf settings, mud-dominated successions commonly contain complex stratigraphic geometries in which low-gradient clinothems feature prominently. Despite their ubiquity, the full range of mechanisms responsible for sediment dispersal and clinothem progradation in such settings is not well understood. Using sediment core data (210PbXS, 137Cs, grain size, porosity, X-radiography) and shallow seismic observations, this study examines the mechanisms of across-shelf sediment transport and clinothem progradation on the muddy Southwest Louisiana Atchafalaya Chenier Plain inner shelf. Observations indicate that rapid transfer of organic matter-rich sediment to the outer topsets and clinothem rollover occurs mainly via hydrodynamic fluid-mud processes during times of high wave-current bed shear stress (e.g., during the passage of storms). Rapid sedimentation, wave perturbation, and the development of biogenic methane within the shallow seabed result in the generation of large internal pore water pressures such that the clinothem rollover and foreset sediments are inherently in a condition of incipient failure. Subsequent basinward sediment transfer to the foresets occurs largely in association with low-gradient (<0.02°) mass-failure events, evidenced by widespread scarping and mudflows on the seabed. These represent an important and as yet unattributed mechanism for clinothem progradation in the study area and are likely to drive basinward sediment transport in other muddy shelf clinothem systems, both modern and ancient.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Geo-Marine Letters

First Page


Last Page


This document is currently not available here.