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Seafloor imagery from the BIG’95 debris flow, western Mediterranean

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  • Earth Science

Abstract

Seafloor backscatter data are used to image the product of one of the youngest major mass-wasting events in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea: a 26 km3 debris-flow deposit that covers 2000 km2 of the Ebro continental slope and base of slope, offshore Spain. Backscatter images provide unprecedented insights on debris-flow dynamics in the deep sea. A pattern of low-backscatter patches represents large sediment blocks that moved while keeping their internal coherence. High-backscatter alignments restricted to topographic lows that represent coarse sediment pathways separate the blocks. The results presented prove the occurrence of large catastrophic sediment failures near heavily populated coastal areas even in continental margins considered to be geodynamically quiet, such as those of the northwestern Mediterranean.

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