Shanmugam, G. Research Department, Mobil Research and Development Corporation, Dallas Research Laboratory, Dallas, Texas.
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Steep-sided valleys incised into the continental shelf and slope. Submarine canyons serve as major conduits for transporting sediment from land and the shelf to the deep-sea floor. Undersea canyons are prominent erosional features along both the U.S. Pacific (Fig. 1) and Atlantic (Fig. 2) continental margins. Submarine canyons also develop along the slopes of many islands (for example, Hawaii). They are associated with deep siliciclastic margins (Fig. 2) as well as shallow carbonate platforms (Fig. 3). Smaller erosional features on the continental slope are commonly called gullies (Fig. 2); however, there are no standardized criteria to distinguish canyons from gullies. Similarly, the distinction between submarine canyons and submarine erosional channels is not straightforward. Thus, alternative terms, such as gullies, channels, troughs, trenches, fault valleys, and sea valleys, have been used for submarine canyons. See also: Continental margin; Rock
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