Publication Date

Summer 2017

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

M. Royhan Gani (Director), Nahid D. Gani, and Fredrick D. Siewers

Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Laurentide Ice Sheet outburst floods to the Gulf of Mexico have been mainly documented based on deep-sea cores, especially the megafloods, only during the last several interglacial episodes in the late Pleistocene. The paleoclimatic significance of giant sedimentary structures developed under unconfined Froude-supercritical turbidity currents in subaqueous settings is considerably under-examined. This research extensively documents >20-km-wide and 200-m-thick Plio-Pleistocene giant sediment waves for the first time on the northern Gulf of Mexico continental slope using 3D seismic data, which show waveform morphology in unprecedented detail. The results suggest that such large-scale bedforms were formed under sheet-like unconfined Froudesupercritical turbidity currents as cyclic steps, based on numerical and morphological analyses. Paleohydraulic reconstruction (e.g., flow velocity, discharge, and unit flux), in association with other evidence like geologic age, stable isotope records, and temporal rarity, points out that the responsible Froude-supercritical turbidity currents were most likely triggered by deglacial catastrophic outburst floods during the late Pliocene to early Pleistocene. These flooding events constitute, by far, the oldest record of the glacial outburst floods during the Quaternary Ice Age. The results propose that such pervasive occurrence of large-scale sediment waves are a proxy for catastrophic megaflood events


Climate | Geology | Geophysics and Seismology | Glaciology | Sedimentology