Stream power controls the braiding intensity of submarine channels similarly to rivers

Steven Y.J. Lai, Samuel S.C. Hung, Brady Z. Foreman, Ajay B. Limaye, Jean Louis Grimaud, Chris Paola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We use physical experiments to investigate the response of submarine braided channels driven by saline density currents to increasing inflow discharge and bed slope. We find that, similarly to braided rivers, only a fraction of submarine braided networks have active sediment transport. We then find similar response to imposed change between submarine and fluvial braided systems: (1) both the active and total braiding intensities increase with increasing discharge and slope; (2) the ratio of active braiding intensity to total braiding intensity is 0.5 in submarine braided systems regardless of discharge and slope; and (3) the active braiding intensity scales linearly with dimensionless stream power. Thus, braided submarine channels and braided rivers are similar in some important aspects of their behavior and responses to changes in stream power and bed slope. In light of the scale independence of braided channel planform organization, these results are likely to apply beyond experimental scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5062-5070
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology from Taiwan (grants MOST 105-2625-M-006-008 and MOST 106-2119-M-239-001) and National Science Foundation (NSF) via the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics. It has also been supported by the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory industrial consortium for experimental stratigraphy. Pao-Shan Yu is gratefully acknowledged for an additional grant. The data used are listed in the references, tables, and supporting information. Finally, we thank Peter E. Ashmore and Maarten G. Kleinhans for their helpful, constructive reviews.


  • braided turbidite
  • braiding intensity
  • density current
  • physical experiment
  • stream power
  • submarine channel

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