Event sedimentation, bioturbation, and preserved sedimentary fabric: Field and model comparisons in three contrasting marine settings

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A model for the emplacement, bioturbation, and preservation of fine-scaled sedimentary strata has been used to evaluate the impact of interacting physical and biological sedimentary processes on preserved sedimentary fabric in three depositional settings. The settings, which have contrasting hydrodynamic, geological, and biological characteristics, are Eckernförde Bay, German Baltic Sea; the Eel Shelf, northern California, USA; and the northern Gulf of Alaska continental shelf, USA. We have compared field measurements of sedimentation and bioturbation (from 7Be, 234Th, 210Pb, and 137Cs measurements), and observations of sedimentary fabric derived from core X-radiographs with model predictions of preserved sedimentary fabric. The one-dimensional model is forced by fluctuations in the instantaneous sedimentation rate, which deposits sediment with primary sedimentary fabric. Primary sedimentary fabric is then modified by bioturbation, which is represented as a first-order depth-limited reaction term, the rate of which is derived from radioisotopic and time-series estimates of bioturbation depth and intensity. Model output includes depth in seabed and corresponding preservation quotient, a measure of relative primary versus biogenic fabric. Although measured rates and depth scales of sedimentation and bioturbation vary across the three study areas by more than a factor of ten, model results strongly resemble actual sedimentary fabric in core X-radiographs in each case. Our results support and expand on concepts that invoke episodic sedimentation and depth-dependent bioturbation as important competing factors in the preservation or destruction of primary depositional fabric, and also suggest that radioisotopic estimates of bioturbation rates can adequately portray natural conditions. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Continental Shelf Research

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