Fly River shelf, Papua New Guinea


Processes controlling depositional signals for environmental change in the Fly River sediment dispersal system: Mechanisms and rates of shelf clinoform development

This study was part of MARGINS Source-to-Sink (S2S) investigation of the Gulf of Papua, which is a foreland basin receiving large quantities of siliciclastic sediment. The energetic character of the setting imparts strong sedimentary signals to the fate of particles in its dispersal systems. The largest of these is the Fly River, which drains the rain-drenched highlands of Papua New Guinea. Its fluvial load enters the gulf, where tidal currents are strong and the variability of winds, waves and circulation is driven by seasonal changes from trade-wind to monsoon conditions. The wet-tropical setting causes river discharge to be relatively constant during most years. However, the proximity to the equatorial warm pool intensifies the impact of El Nino periods, when rainfall is dramatically decreased and so is river discharge.

The Gulf of Papua provided a valuable opportunity to study continental-shelf sedimentation, because it has a rich assortment of active processes and preserved stratigraphy. The focus of this investigation was on active sedimentation associated with the clinoform found on the inner and middle shelf, and the relationship of this sedimentation to the rest of the dispersal system.

Project publications:

Crockett, J.S., Nittrouer, C.A., Ogston, A.S., Goni, M.A. (2009) Variable Styles of Sediment Accumulation Impacting Strata Formation on a Clinoform: Gulf of Papua, Papua New Guinea. In: The Fly River: natural and human aspects of a complex fluvial system. B.R. Bolton, Ed.

Crockett, J. S., Nittrouer, C.A., Ogston, A.S., Walsh, J.P., Naar, D., Donahue, B (2008). Morphology and filling of incised submarine valleys on the continental shelf near the mouth of the Fly River, Gulf of Papua. Journal of Geophysical Research 113: F01512.

Goni, M.A., Monacci, N., Gisewite, R., Nittrouer, C., Crockett, J., Ogston, A. (2008) Terrigenous organic matter in sediments from the Fly River delta (Papua New Guinea). Journal of Geophysical Research 113: F01510. doi:10.1029/2006JF000653.

Martin, D.P., Nittrouer, C.A., Ogston, A.S., Crockett, J.S. (2008) Tidal and seasonal dynamics of a muddy inner-shelf environment, Gulf of Papua. Journal of Geophysical Research 113: F01507. doi:10.1029/2006JF000681.

Ogston, A.S., Sternberg, R.W., Nittrouer, C.A., Martin, D.P., Goni, M.A., Crockett, J.S., (2008) Sediment delivery from the Fly River tidally dominated delta to the nearshore marine environment and the impact of El Nino. Journal of Geophysical Research 113: F01511. doi:10.1029/2006JF000669.

Slingerland, R., Selover, R.W., Ogston, A.S., Keen, T.R., Driscoll, N.W., Milliman, J.D. (2008) Role of coastal flows in building the holocene clinoform in the Gulf of Papua. Journal of Geophysical Research 113: F01514. doi.10.1029/2006JF000680.

Goni, M.A., Monacci, N., Gisewite, R., Ogston, A., Nittrouer, C., Crockett, J. (2006) Distribution and Sources of Particulate OM in the Water Column and Sediments of the Fly River Delta, Gulf of Papua (Papua New Guinea). Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 69: 225-245.

Crockett, J., Nittrouer, C., Ogston, A. Sternberg, R., Driscoll, N., Babcock, J., Milliman, J., Slingerland, R., Naar, D., Donahue, B., Walsh, J., Dietrich, W., Parker, G., Bera, M., Davies, H., Harris, P., Goni, M., Aller, R., and J. Aller. (2005). Where rivers and oceans collide: geological complexities of this interace revealed by the NSF MARGINS program. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 86:3.

Funding source: National Science Foundation

People: Chuck Nittrouer, Andrea Ogston, Dick Sternberg