Deltas form over basements of various slope configurations. While the morphodynamics of prograding deltas over single-slope basements have been studied previously, our understanding of delta progradation over segmented basements is still limited. Here we use experimental and analytical approaches to investigate the deltaic morphologies developing over two-slope basements with unequal subaerial and subaqueous slopes. For each case considered, the scaled profiles of the evolving delta collapse to a single profile for constant water and sediment influxes, allowing us to use the analytical self-similar profiles to investigate the individual effects of subaerial/subaqueous slopes. Individually varying the subaerial/subaqueous slopes exerts asymmetric effects on the morphologies. Increasing the subaerial slope advances the entire delta; increasing the subaqueous slope advances the upstream boundary of the topset yet causes the downstream boundary to retreat. The delta front exhibits a first-retreat-then-advance migrating trend with increasing subaqueous slope. A decrease in subaerial topset length is always accompanied by an increase in subaqueous volume fraction, no matter which segment is steepened. Applications are presented for estimating shoreline retreat caused by steepening of basement slopes, and estimating subaqueous volume and delta front using the observed topset length. The results may have implications for real-world delta systems subjected to upstream tectonic uplift and/or downstream subsidence. Both scenarios would exhibit reduced topset lengths, which are indicative of the accompanied increases in subaqueous volume and signal tectonic uplift and/or subsidence that are at play. We highlight herein the importance of geometric controls on partitioning of sediment between subaerial and subaqueous delta components.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth-Surface Processes