Turbidity currents regulate the transport of terrigenous sediment, abundant in carbon and nutrients, from the shelf to the deep sea. However, triggers of deep-sea turbidity currents are diverse and remain debatable in individual cases due to few direct measurements and unpredictable occurrence. Here we present long-term monitoring of turbidity currents at a water depth of 2104 m on the margin of the Gaoping Submarine Canyon off Taiwan, which has the world's highest erosion rates and wettest typhoons. The unique 3.5 year record of in situ observations demonstrates the frequent occurrence of deep-sea turbidity currents (an average of six times per year from May 2013 to October 2016), most of which show enhanced sediment flux, raised temperature, and lowered salinity. They are attributed to elevated discharge of the Gaoping River due to typhoons traversing Taiwan. The total duration of these prolonged turbidity currents amounts to 30% of the entire monitoring period, contributing to ~72% of total sediment transport in the lower canyon. Our study demonstrates for the first time that typhoons are the most important triggers, in the long term, of frequent turbidity currents and enhanced sediment delivery into the deep sea in the typhoon-river canyon environment.
Bibliographical noteThis work is supported by the National Science Foundation of China (grants 91528304, 41576005, and 41530964). We thank J. Li, X. Lyu, P. Li, K. Duan, J.
Ronan, Y. Wang, P. Ma, and Y. Li for cruise assistance; G. de Lange and J. Hinojosa for editing an early version of manuscript; and E. Pope and two anonymous
reviewers for their reviews.