Morphology of Neptune Node Sites, Barkley Canyon, Cascadia Margin
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
High-resolution multibeam bathymetry and chirp seismic reflection profiles collected with MBARI’s mapping autonomous underwater vehicle reveal the fine-scale morphology and shallow seafloor structure of the flanks and floor of Barkley Canyon on the Cascadia continental margin off British Columbia. The surveys characterize the environment surrounding three nodes on the Neptune Canada cabled observatory located within the canyon. The canyon floor between 960 and 1020 m water depth lacks channeling and contains ≥ 24 m of acoustically uniform sediment fill, which is ponded between the canyon’s steep sidewalls. The fill overlies a strong reflector that outlines an earlier, now buried, canyon floor channel system. Debris flow tongues contain meter scale blocks sticking-up through the fill. Apparently the present geomorphology surrounding the Canyon Axis node in 985 m is attributable to local debris flows, rather than organized down canyon processes. In the survey area the canyon sidewalls extend ~300 m up and in places the slope of the canyons sides exceed 40°. Both the Hydrate node in 870 m water depths and the Mid-Canyon node at 890 m are located on a headland that forms intermediate depth terraces on the canyon’s western flank. While the seafloor immediately surrounding the Mid-canyon node is smooth, the Hydrate node is marked by 10 circular mounds up to 2 m high and 10 m in diameter, presumable associated with hydrate formation. Although wedges of sediment drape occur in places on the canyon sides, the chirp profiles show no detectible sediment drape at either node site and suggest these nodes are situated on older, presumably pre-Quaternary strata. The lack of reflectors in the chirp profiles indicates most of the canyon’s sidewalls are largely sediment-bare. Lineations in the bathymetry mark the exposed edges of truncated beds. Rough, apparently fresh textures, within slide scarps show the importance of erosion on the development of the canyon flanks.