Physical behaviour of Cretaceous calcareous nannofossil ooze: Insight from flume studies of disaggregated chalk

Toms Buls, Kresten Anderskouv, Patrick L. Friend, Charlotte E.L. Thompson, Lars Stemmerik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Geomorphic features such as drifts, sediment waves and channels have been documented in the Upper Cretaceous of north-west Europe. These features are interpreted to result from bottom currents and have been used to refine chalk depositional models and quantify palaeocirculation patterns. Chalk was first deposited as calcareous nannofossil ooze and geomorphic features are the result of sediment reworking after deposition. There is limited knowledge on the processes that govern nannofossil ooze mobility, thus forcing uncertainty onto numerical models based on sedimentological observations. This article provides an extensive view of the erosional and depositional behaviour of calcareous nannofossil ooze based on experimental work using annular flumes. A fundamental observation of this study is the significant decrease of nannofossil ooze mobility with decreasing bed porosity. Erosion characteristics, labelled as erosion types, vary with total bed porosity (φ) and applied shear stress (τ0). High-porosity ooze (φ >80%) is characterized by constant erosion rates (Em). At φ <77%, however, erosion characteristics showed greater variance. Surface erosion was typically followed by transitional erosion (with asymptotically decreasing Em), and stages of erosion with constant, and exponential erosion rates. The estimated erosion thresholds (τc) vary from ca 0·05 to 0·08 Pa for the onset of surface erosion and up to ca 0·19 Pa for the onset of constant erosion (φ of 60 to 85%). Variability of deposition thresholds (τcd) from ca 0·04 to 0·13 Pa reflects the influence of variable suspended sediment concentration and τ0 on settling particle size due to the identified potential for chalk ooze aggregation and flocculation. Additionally, deposition thresholds seem to be affected by the size of eroded aggregates whose size correlates with bed porosity. Lastly, slow sediment transport without resuspension occurred in high-porosity ooze as surface creep, forming low-relief sedimentary features resembling ripples. This process represents a previously undescribed mode of fine-grained nannofossil ooze transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-507
Number of pages30
JournalSedimentology
Volume64
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Calcareous nannofossil ooze
  • chalk dynamics
  • experimental sedimentology
  • flume
  • sediment transport
  • Upper Cretaceous

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources

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