Although the global flux of sediment and carbon from land to the coastal ocean is well known, the volume of material that reaches the deep ocean-the ultimate sink-and the mechanisms by which it is transferred are poorly documented. Using a globally unique data set of repeat seafloor measurements and samples, we show that the moment magnitude (Mw) 7.8 November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake (New Zealand) triggered widespread landslides in a submarine canyon, causing a powerful "canyon flushing" event and turbidity current that traveled >680 km along one of the world's longest deep-sea channels. These observations provide the first quantification of seafloor landscape change and large-scale sediment transport associated with an earthquake-triggered full canyon flushing event. The calculated interevent time of ~140 years indicates a canyon incision rate of 40 mm year-1, substantially higher than that of most terrestrial rivers, while synchronously transferring large volumes of sediment [850 metric megatons (Mt)] and organic carbon (7 Mt) to the deep ocean. These observations demonstrate that earthquake-triggered canyon flushing is a primary driver of submarine canyon development and material transfer from active continental margins to the deep ocean.