Basin Research

Published by Wiley
Online ISSN: 1365-2117
Print ISSN: 0950-091X
The Burnside Formation records the transition from marine shelf to largely alluvial conditions in the palaeo-Proterozoic (about 1.9 Ga) Kilohigok foreland basin in the Slave Province of the Canadian Shield. The Burnside Formation forms a thick (up to 3.5 km), N W-tapering siliciclastic wedge, representing a braided alluvial system that prograded transversely across the Slave Province. The stratigraphic architecture of this unfossiliferous, predominantly alluvial succession documents the location and distribution of unconformities caused by lithospheric flexure in a Proterozoic foreland basin. The locations of these unconformities demonstrate the changing locations of tectonic and sedimentary loads on both sides of the Silave craton.
Shell-Agip 35/13–1 well drilled 2445 m of Tertiary sediments in the Main Porcupine Basin situated offshore west of Ireland. Early Tertiary sediments and microfossils indicate a major cycle from deep-sea to marginal marine and terrestrial palaeoenvironments returning to deep water. By means of seismic and lithostratigraphy and petrophysical logs, three deltaic cycles can be distinguished within this major cycle. The microfaunal zonation indicates that these cycles are of late Palaeocene, early Eocene and mid/late Eocene age and, therefore, correlate broadly with the Thanet Cycle, London Clay Cycle and the Bracklesham Cycles of the Anglo-French type sections, although they are up to an order of magnitude thicker due to rapid basin subsidence.Three major unconformities can be distinguished together with a disconformity that becomes an unconformity in the North Porcupine Basin. These surfaces are associated with both local and regional tectonic and igneous events. Detailed microfossil and lithological analyses across the major unconformities allows a reasonable matching with the global sea-level curve and recognition of the major and medium sequence boundaries. Discrepancies during the late Eocene may relate to local faulting.The pattern of sedimentation reflects the restriction of North Atlantic circulation and the tendency to euxinic bottom conditions during the early Palaeogene. In the middle Thanetian these conditions invaded the shelf, an event recorded elsewhere in NW Europe. Discontinuous seismic reflectors indicate ‘chaotic’ sedimentation connected with more vigorous circulation and erosion in the early Oligocene. This was followed by a change to parallel bedded contourites and drifts after the cutting of the early Miocene unconformity. The study reveals the complex interplay of eustatic and oceanographic change with local and regional tectonics in the development of the basin.
Mineral provinces in southern and central Africa are strongly controlled by major structural trends, the alignment of sedimentary basins and metamorphically induced thermal regimes deep in the crust. Ore deposits are preferentially located on cooler margins of orogenic belts and are ultimately end-products of fluid expulsion out of the deeper parts of orogenic axes. Metamorphic and structural vectors within orogenic belts adjacent to major cratons show a trend of high-grade thermal overprinting in the cores of axes and lower metamorphic regimes acting on the distal margins of orogens (e.g. foreland basins). This apparent pattern is considered to have importance in the expulsion of at least three generations of mineralizing fluids beginning with exhalative migration during diagenesis and culminating much later in thrust-controlled expulsion onto adjacent craton margins. Fluids within the hydrosphere that accumulate initially through topographic gradients in the sediments mixed with components of the mantle (CO2). After storage within the crust, migration, enforced by metamorphic processes, transferred fluids out of, and away from, high thermal regimes in the axes of belts, leading to their present preservation around the margins of the major cratonic nuclei.
The complex pressure and porosity fields observed in the Eugene Island (EI) 330 field (offshore Louisiana) are thought to result from sediment loading of low-permeability strata. In this field, fluid pressures rise with depth from hydrostatic to nearly lithostatic, iso-pressure surfaces closely follow stratigraphic surfaces which are sharply offset by growth-faulting, and porosity declines with effective stress. A one-dimensional hydrodynamic model simulates the evolution of pressure and porosity in this system. If reversible (elastic) compaction is assumed, sediment loading is the dominant source of overpressure (94%). If irreversible (inelastic) compaction and permeability reduction due to clay diagenesis are assumed, then thermal expansion of pore fluids and clay dehydration provide a significant component of overpressure (>20%). The model is applied to wells on the upthrown and downthrown sides of the major growth fault in the EI 330 field. Assuming that sediment loading is the only pressure source and that permeability is a function of lithology and porosity, the observed pressure and porosity profiles are reproduced. Observation and theory support a conceptual model where hydrodynamic evolution is intimately tied to the structural and stratigraphic evolution of this progradational deltaic system.
New U–Pb zircon and 40Ar–39Ar K-feldspar data are presented for syn-sedimentary volcanogenic rocks from the Neoproterozoic Maricá Formation, located in the southern Brazilian shield. Seven (of nine) U–Pb sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe analyses of zircons from pyroclastic cobbles yield an age of 630.2±3.4 Ma (2σ), interpreted as the age of syn-sedimentary volcanism, and thus of the deposition itself. This result indicates that the Maricá Formation was deposited during the main collisional phase (640–620 Ma) of the Brasiliano II orogenic system, probably as a forebulge or back-bulge, craton-derived foreland succession. Thus, this unit is possibly correlative of younger portions of the Porongos, Brusque, Passo Feio, Abapã (Itaiacoca) and Lavalleja (Fuente del Puma) metamorphic complexes. Well-defined, step-heating 40Ar–39Ar K-feldspar plateau ages obtained from volcanogenic beds and pyroclastic cobbles of the lower and upper successions of the Maricá Formation yielded 507.3±1.8 Ma and 506.7±1.4 Ma (2σ), respectively. These data are interpreted to reflect total isotopic resetting during deep burial and thermal effects related to magmatic events. Late Middle Cambrian cooling below ca. 200 °C, probably related to uplift, is tentatively associated with intraplate effects of the Rio Doce and/or Pampean orogenies (Brasiliano III system). In the southern Brazilian shield, these intraplate stresses are possibly related to the dominantly extensional opening of a rift or a pull-apart basin, where sedimentary rocks of the Camaquã Group (Santa Bárbara and Guaritas Formations) accumulated.
ABSTRACT40Ar–39Ar dating of detrital white micas, petrography and heavy mineral analysis and whole-rock geochemistry has been applied to three time-equivalent sections through the Siwalik Group molasse in SW Nepal [Tinau Khola section (12–6 Ma), Surai Khola section (12–1 Ma) and Karnali section (16–5 Ma)]. 40Ar–39Ar ages from 1415 single detrital white micas show a peak of ages between 20 and 15 Ma for all the three sections, corresponding to the period of most extensive exhumation of the Greater Himalaya. Lag times of less than 5 Myr persist until 10 Ma, indicating Greater Himalayan exhumation rates of up to 2.6 mm year−1, using one-dimensional thermal modelling. There are few micas younger than 12 Ma, no lag times of less than 6 Myr after 10 Ma and whole-rock geochemistry and petrography show a significant provenance change at 12 Ma indicating erosion from the Lesser Himalaya at this time. These changes suggest a switch in the dynamics of the orogen that took place during the 12–10 Ma period whereby most strain began to be accommodated by structures within the Lesser Himalaya as opposed to the Greater Himalaya. Consistent data from all three Siwalik sections suggest a lateral continuity in tectonic evolution for the central Himalayas.
The Nova Basin contains an upper Miocene to Pliocene supradetachment sedimentary succession that records the unroofing of the Panamint metamorphic core complex, west of Death Valley, California. Basin stratigraphy reflects the evolution of sedimentation processes from landslide emplacement during basin initiation to the development of alluvial fans composed of reworked, uplifted sections of the basin fill. 40Ar/39Ar geochronology of volcanic units in middle and lower parts of the sequence provide age control on the tectonic and depositional evolution of the basin and, more generally, insights regarding the rate of change of depositional environments in supradetachment basins. Our work, along with earlier research, indicate basin deposition from 11.38 Ma to 3.35 Ma. The data imply sedimentation rates, uncorrected for compaction, of ~100 m Myr−1 in the lower, high-energy part to ~1000 m Myr−1 in the middle part characterized by debris-flow fan deposition. The observed variation in sediment flux rate during basin evolution suggests that supradetachment basins have complex depositional histories involving rapid transitions in both the style and rate of sedimentation.
The Centralian Superbasin in central Australia is one of the most extensive intracratonic basins known from a stable continental setting, but the factors controlling its formation and subsequent structural dismemberment continue to be debated. Argon thermochronology of K-feldspar, sensitive to a broad range of temperatures (∼150 to 350 °C), provides evidence for the former extent and thickness of the superbasin and points toward thickening of the superbasin succession over the now exhumed Arunta Region basement. These data suggest that before Palaeozoic tectonism, there was around 5–6 km of sediment present over what is now the northern margin of the Amadeus Basin, and, if the Centralian superbasin was continuous, between 6 and 8 km over the now exhumed basement. 40Ar/39Ar data from neoformed fine-grained muscovite suggests that Palaeozoic deformation and new mineral growth occurred during the earliest compressional phase of the Alice Springs Orogeny (ASO) (440–375 Ma) and was restricted to shear zones. Significantly, several shear zones active during the late Mesoproterozoic Teapot Orogeny were not reactivated at this time, suggesting that the presence of pre-existing structures was not the only controlling factor in localizing Palaeozoic deformation. A range of Palaeozoic ages of 440–300 Ma from samples within and external to shear zones points to thermal disturbance from at least the early Silurian through until the late Carboniferous and suggests final cooling and exhumation of the terrane in this interval. The absence of evidence for active deformation and/or new mineral growth in the late stages of the ASO (350–300 Ma) is consistent with a change in orogenic dynamics from thick-skinned regionally extensive deformation to a more restricted localized high-geothermal gradient event.
Location of the Warburton, Cooper and Eromanga Basins in central Australia; states and territories are indicated: NT, Northern Territory; SA, South Australia; QLD, Queensland; NSW, New South Wales; WA, Western Australia; Tas, Tasmania (map modified after Drexel & Preiss, 1995) (b) Location of sampled wells. Habanero-1 is 450 m west of McLeod-1. Sample numbers of K-feldspars analysed shown alongside corresponding wells. (c) Shaded contour map showing depth to the pre-Permian basement (i.e. top of the Warburton Basin) in the South Australian portion of the Cooper/Eromanga basin. Major structural elements are shown, GMI, Gidgealpa, Merrimelia, Innamincka Ridge; BTR, Birdsville Track Ridge; NT, Nappamerri Trough; PT, Patchawarra Trough. Map courtesy of Primary Industry and Resources, South Australia.
Representative atomic number contrast (back-scattered electron) images of epoxy mounted K-feldspar grains for (a) 02-147; (b) 02-149; (c) 02-152; (d) 02-229; (e) 02-230; (f) 02-231 and (g) 02-232. The lighter colour is K-feldspar; the darker colour is plagioclase.
Measured 40Ar/39Ar age spectra for K-feldspar samples (a) 02-147; (b) 02-149; (c) 02-152; (d) 02-229; (e) 02-230; (f) 02-231; and (g) 02-232. Each figure shows the measured age against the fraction of 39Ar released for the laboratory results. For K-feldspar 02-149, the best-fit model from the MDD modelling approach is also shown. Note that this model corresponds to the cooling history shown in . Note that the large differences in the ages of adjacent temperature steps are a characteristic pattern indicating contamination due to Cl-derived excess argon (e.g. Harrison et al., 1994) For 02-147, 02-229, 02-230, 02-231 and 02-232; Cl-corrected ages are also shown for this contaminated early released gas. As noted in the text, the corrected ages of around zero indicate recent argon loss.
shows a summarized thermal history model for the Warburton, Cooper and Eromanga Basins, as derived from the K-feldspar 40 Ar/ 39 Ar results. An extended period of high geothermal gradient conditions, or extensive hydrothermal circulation, has been identi¢ed from the middle Carboniferous to the middle Triassic. Temperatures of at least 250^300 1C are needed
The potential use of 40Ar/39Ar thermochronologic data from K-feldspars in reconstructing basin thermal history has been evaluated using the example of the Warburton/Cooper/Eromanga Basin, Australia's largest onshore oil- and gas-producing basin. Results from 40Ar/39Ar step-heating experiments reveal details of the evolution of the basin system, including the following: (1) the operation of high geothermal gradient regimes during the earliest basin evolution, suggesting that basin formation was active rather than passive; (2) slow cooling from a Permo-Triassic temperature peak of at least 250–300°C; (3) a rise in thermal gradients to contemporary bottom hole temperatures in the last 5–10 Myr; and (4) spatially variable recrystallization events between 100 and 50 Ma and at around 20 Ma. Initial microstructural observations serve as a useful predictor of the quality and nature of the obtainable age information. Data from ‘pristine’ K-feldspars may constrain the peak temperature conditions experienced in the basin, the basin's early thermal history and also any recent changes in thermal gradient. Contrasting data from texturally modified K-feldspars may constrain times of thermal transients and/or fluid flow, with the preferred interpretation that K-feldspars recrystallize in response to such events. The Warburton/Cooper/Eromanga Basin example suggests that the 40Ar/39Ar technique may serve as a useful adjunct to apatite and zircon fission track analysis and conventional organic maturation indices in basin thermal history analysis.
An efficient high-resolution (HR) three-dimensional (3D) seismic reflection system for small-scale targets in lacustrine settings was developed. In Lake Geneva, near the city of Lausanne, Switzerland, the offshore extension of a complex fault zone well mapped on land was chosen for testing our system. A preliminary two-dimensional seismic survey indicated structures that include a thin (<40 m) layer of subhorizontal Quaternary sediments that unconformably overlie south-east-dipping Tertiary Molasse beds and a major fault zone (Paudèze Fault Zone) that separates Plateau and Subalpine Molasse (SM) units. A 3D survey was conducted over this test site using a newly developed three-streamer system. It provided high-quality data with a penetration to depths of 300 m below the water bottom of non-aliased signal for dips up to 30° and with a maximum vertical resolution of 1.1 m. The data were subjected to a conventional 3D processing sequence that included post-stack time migration. Tests with 3D pre-stack depth migration showed that such techniques can be applied to HR seismic surveys. Delineation of several horizons and fault surfaces reveals the potential for small-scale geologic and tectonic interpretation in three dimensions. Five major seismic facies and their detailed 3D geometries can be distinguished. Three fault surfaces and the top of a molasse surface were mapped in 3D. Analysis of the geometry of these surfaces and their relative orientation suggests that pre-existing structures within the Plateau Molasse (PM) unit influenced later faulting between the Plateau and SM. In particular, a change in strike of the PM bed dip may indicate a fold formed by a regional stress regime, the orientation of which was different from the one responsible for the creation of the Paudèze Fault Zone. This structure might have later influenced the local stress regime and caused the curved shape of the Paudèze Fault in our surveyed area.
This paper documents the importance of three-dimensional (3D) seismic data for integrated stratigraphic–morphological analysis of slope systems. Furthermore, it contributes to the general understanding of the evolutionary mechanisms of slope-confined submarine canyons on continental margins and their significance in a sequence stratigraphic framework. Recently acquired 3D seismic data from the Ebro Continental Margin (Western Mediterranean) have been used to study a series of remarkably well-imaged submarine canyons in the Plio-Pleistocene succession. Detailed mapping shows that these canyons are restricted to the slope, and thus can be compared with slope-confined canyons observed on the present day seabed of many continental margins. The slope-confined canyons are typically 0.5–2 km wide, 10–15 km long, and incise more than 50 m into the slope units. Their most striking characteristic is an upslope branching geometry in the head region involving up to three orders of bifurcation, with downslope development of a single incisional axis. The submarine canyons are characterized by a nested stacking pattern, undergoing alternating phases of cutting and filling. Limited parts of the upper and middle slope remain outside the canyon system, confined in sharp depositional ridges. The canyons are observed on closely spaced surfaces and exhibit a geometry that allowed the construction and discussion of a local sequence stratigraphic model for their evolution. In general, active incision of the canyons is observed at times throughout almost the entire cycle of base-level change. However, erosional activity is more significant during the later stages of the relative sea level rise and the entire falling stage, with the timing of maximum erosion observed at the end of the cycle. The minimum erosional activity of the canyons is linked instead to the earliest part of the relative sea level rise.
This paper uses three-dimensional (3D) seismic data from the continental margin of Israel (Eastern Mediterranean) to describe a series of slump deposits within the Pliocene and Holocene succession. These slumps are linked to the dynamics of subsidence and deformation of the transform margin of the eastern Mediterranean. Repeated slope failure occurred during the post-Messinian, when a clay-dominated progradational succession was forming. This resulted in large-scale slump deposits accumulating in the mid-lower slope region of the basin at different stratigraphic levels. It is probable that the slumps were triggered by a combination of slope oversteepening, seismic activity and gas migration.The high spatial resolution provided by the 3D seismic data has been used to define a spectrum of internal and external geometries within slump deposits. Importantly, we recognise two main zones for many of the slumps on this margin: a depletion zone and an accumulation zone. The former is characterised by extension and translation, and the latter by complex imbricate thrusts and fold systems. Volume-based seismic attribute analysis reveals transport directions within the slump deposits, which are predominately downslope, but with subtle variations particularly at the lateral margins. Basal shear surfaces are observed to ramp both up and down stratigraphy. Slump evolution occurs both by retrogressive upslope failure, and by downslope propagation (out-of-sequence) failure. Slump anatomy and the combination of factors responsible for slump failure and transport are relatively poorly understood, mainly because of the limited 3D of outcrop control; hence, this subsurface study is an example of how improved understanding of the mechanisms and products can be obtained using this 3D seismic methodology in unstable margin areas.
This paper documents a large number of large km-scale fluid escape pipes with complex seismic expression and a diatreme-like geometry from the mapping of a 3D seismic survey, offshore Namibia. These pipes are crudely cylindrical, but occasionally have steep conical geometry either narrowing upwards or downwards. They are generally ovoid in planform and their ellipticity varies with pipe height. Vertical dimensions range from ca. 100 to >1000 m and diameters range between 50 and 600 m. The lower part of the typical pipe is characterised by a sag-like or collapse type of structure, but this is only imaged well in the wider pipes. The upper part of the typical pipe is characterised by gently concave upwards reflections, with a negative relief of tens of metres. There is some evidence (pipe cross-section geometrical variations and amplitude anomalies) that these concave upwards reflections are vertically stacked palaeo-pockmarks. A conceptual model for pipe formation is proposed that involves hydraulic fracturing and localisation of focused vertical fluid escape with volume loss at the base of the pipe inducing collapse within the pipe. Continuing episodic fluid migration through the pipe produces further collapsing of the core of the pipe and pockmark structures at the top of the pipe. Longer term seepage through pipes is manifested in zones of amplification of reflections above the top of the pipe.
The proliferation of three-dimensional (3D) seismic technology is one of the most exciting developments in the Earth Sciences over the past century. 3D reflection seismic data provide interpreters with the ability to map structures and stratigraphic features in 3D detail to a resolution of a few tens of metres over thousands of square kilometres. It is a geological ‘Hubble’, whose resolving power has already yielded some fascinating (and surprising) insights and will continue to provide a major stimulus for research into geological processes and products for many decades to come. Academic and other research institutions have a major role to play in the use of this data by exploiting the enormous volume of geological information contained in 3D seismic surveys. This paper reviews some of the recent advances in basin analysis made using the medium of 3D seismic data, focusing on the fields of structural and sedimentary geology, fluid–rock interactions and igneous geology. It is noted that the increased resolution of the 3D seismic method provided the essential catalyst necessary to stimulate novel observations and discover new geological structures such as mud diapir feeders, km-long gas blow-out pipes, giant pockmarks and sandstone intrusions, and to capture the spatial variability of diagenetic fronts. The UKs first impact crater was also discovered using 3D seismic data. The potential for future developments in this field of geophysical interpretation is considerable, and we anticipate that new discoveries will be made in many years to come.
Commercial three-dimensional (3D) seismic surveys now cover much of the continental slope and basin floor areas of the Faroe-Shetland Channel. A mosaic of the seabed picks derived from these data sets and enhancement with visualisation techniques has resulted in detailed relief images of the seabed that testify to the action of a number of sedimentary processes such as glaciation, downslope and alongslope processes. The wealth of detail in these images is remarkable and extremely valuable for the identification and interpretation of seabed features. However, the level of detail can seduce the interpreter into treating the image purely as an aerial photograph. The interpreter needs to understand the limitations and artefacts inherent in such images to use them appropriately. This paper will present the major artefacts observed in the images and how certain aspects of 3D seismic survey acquisition and processing have contributed to their presence. The vertical and horizontal resolution of the images will also be discussed. Although primarily focused on seabed imagery these comments are equally pertinent to the application of 3D seismic surveys for shallower objectives than for which they were primarily designed.
Analysis of three-dimensional (3D) seismic data from the headwall area of the Storegga Slide on the mid-Norwegian margin provides new insights into buried mass movements and their failure mechanisms. These mass movements are located above the Ormen Lange dome, a Tertiary dome structure, which hosts a large gas reservoir. Slope instabilities occurred as early as the start of the Plio-Pleistocene glacial–interglacial cycles. The 3D seismic data provide geophysical evidence for gas that leaks from the reservoir and migrates upward into the shallow geosphere. Sediments with increased gas content might have liquefied during mobilization of the sliding and show different flow mechanisms than sediments containing less gas. In areas where there is no evidence for gas, the sediments remained intact. This stability is inherited by overlying strata. The distribution of gas in the shallow subsurface (<600 m) may explain the shape of the lower Storegga headwall in the Ormen Lange area.
We present results from interpretation of a 3D seismic data set, located within the NW German sedimentary basin, as part of the Southern Permian Basin. We focused on the development of faults, the timing of deformation, the amount of displacement during multiphase deformation, strain partitioning, and the interaction between salt movements and faulting. We recognised the central fault zone of the study area to be the Aller-lineament, an important NW-trending fault zone within the superimposed Central European Basin System. From structural and sedimentological interpretations we derived the following evolution: (1) E–W extension during Permian rifting, (2) N–S extension within cover sediments, and E–W transtension affecting both basement and cover, contemporaneously during Late Triassic and Jurassic, (3) regional subsidence of the Lower Saxony Basin during Late Jurassic/Early Cretaceous, (4) N–S compression within cover sediments, and E–W transpression affecting both basement and cover, contemporaneously during Late Cretaceous/Early Tertiary inversion and (5) major subsidence and salt diapir rise during the Cenozoic. We suggest that the heterogeneity in distribution and timing of deformation in the working area was controlled by pre-existing faults and variations in salt thickness, which led to stress perturbations and therefore local strain partitioning. We observed coupling and decoupling between pre- and post-Zechstein salt units: in decoupled areas deformation occurred only within post-salt units, whereas in coupled areas deformation occurred in both post- and pre-salt units, and is characterised by strike-slip faulting.
The Mid-Palaeocene palaeogeography of Denmark and the surrounding areas have been reconstructed on the basis of published geological data integrated with 3D geodynamic modelling. The use of numerical modelling enables quantitative testing of scenarios based on geological input alone and thus helps constrain likely palaeo-water depths in areas where the geological data are inconclusive or incomplete. The interpretation of large-scale erosional valleys and small-scale circular depressions at the Mid-Palaeocene Top Chalk surface in the Norwegian–Danish basin as either submarine or subaerial features is enigmatic and has strong implications for palaeogeographical reconstructions of the eastern North Sea basin. A 3D thermo-mechanical model is employed in order to constrain the likely palaeo-water depths of the eastern North Sea basin during the Palaeocene. The model treats the lithosphere as an elasto-visco-plastic continuum and models the lithospheric response to the regional stress field and thermal structure. The model includes the effects of sea-level change, sedimentation and erosion, from the Mid Cretaceous to the present. Modelling results reproduce to first order geological data such as present sediment isopachs and palaeo-water depths. It is concluded that the Mid Palaeocene water depths in the Norwegian–Danish basin were about 250 m. The erosional valleys and circular depressions at the top of the Upper Cretaceous-Danian Chalk Group are thus interpreted to have formed in relatively deep water rather than due to subaerial exposure. Likely interpretations of the structures are therefore submarine valleys and pockmarks.
This paper presents a three-dimensional (3D) seismic analysis of sediment remobilization and fluid migration in a 2000-km2 area above the Gjallar Ridge located in the Vøring Basin, offshore Norway. Three distinct types of mounded structures have been identified as resulting from focused fluid/gas migration and associated mud remobilization and intrusion. Type A structures are gently mounded, and we infer that these structures formed because of in situ remobilization of Middle Eocene to Lower–Middle Oligocene fine-grained sediments in response to fluid and minor sediment injection via deep-seated normal faults. Type B structures comprise relatively steep-sided mounds and are restricted to the pre-Miocene interval. They are often located above narrow zones of discontinuous low-amplitude reflections resembling gas chimneys. Some of the Type B structures are associated with stacked amplitude anomalies and possible mud volcanoes at the base Pleistocene indicating their long-term significance as vertical fluid conduits. Type C structures comprise discrete mound features that seem to jack up the Top Palaeocene (Top Brygge) horizon. These are similar to hydrothermal mounds found elsewhere on the Norwegian Margin and associated with igneous sill intrusion during North Atlantic breakup. This study highlights the utility of 3D seismic data for mapping of fluid and sediment mobilization through time over large basinal areas.
We present new 3D seismic and well data from the Ebro Margin, NW Mediterranean Sea, to shed new light on the processes that formed the Messinian Erosion Surfaces (MES) of the Valencia Trough (Mediterranean Sea). We combine these data with backstripping techniques to provide a minimum estimate of the Messinian sea level fall in the EBRO Margin, as well as coupled isostasy and river incision and transport modeling to offer new constraints on the evolution of the adjacent subaerial Ebro Basin. Four major seismic units are identified on the Cenozoic Ebro Margin, based on the seismic data, including two major prograding megasequences that are separated by a major unconfirmity: the MES. The 3D seismic data provide an unprecedented view of the MES and display characteristic features of subaerial incision, including a drainage network with tributaries of at least five different orders, terraces and meandering rivers. The Messinian landscape presents a characteristic stepped-like profile that allows the margin to be subdivided in three different regions roughly parallel to the coastline. No major tectonic control exists on the boundaries between these regions. The boundary between the two most distal regions marks the location of a relatively stable base level, and this is used in backstripping analysis to estimate the magnitude of sea level drop associated with the Messinian Salinity Crisis on the Ebro Margin. The MES on the Ebro Margin is dominated by a major fluvial system, that we identify here as the Messinian Ebro River. The 3D seismic data, onshore geology and modeling results indicate that the Ebro River drained the Ebro Basin well in advance of the Messinian.
Three-dimensional (3D) seismic, well and biostratigraphic data are integrated to determine the timing of inversion on the hangingwall of the South Viking Graben, offshore Norway. Within the study area two, NW–SE to NE–SW trending normal faults are developed which were active during a Late Jurassic rift event. In the hangingwall of these faults asymmetric, 2–5 km wide anticlines are developed which trend parallel to the adjacent faults and are interpreted as growth folds formed in response to compressional shortening (inversion) of the syn-rift basin-fill. Marked thickness variations are observed in Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous growth strata with respect to the inversion-related folds, with seismic data indicating onlap and thinning of these units across the folds. In addition, well data suggests that not only are erosional surfaces only locally developed towards the crests of the folds, but these surfaces may also truncate underlying flooding surfaces towards the fold crests. Taken together, these observations indicate that inversion and growth of inversion-related structures initiated in the late Early Volgian and continued until the Late Albian. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that individual folds amplified and propagated laterally through time, and that fold growth was not synchronous across the study area. This study demonstrates that the temporal evolution of structures associated with the inversion of sedimentary basins can be accurately determined through the integration of 3D seismic, well and biostratigraphic data. Furthermore, this study has local implications for constraining the timing of inversion within the South Viking Graben during the Late Mesozoic.
We use three-dimensional (3D) seismic reflection and magnetic data to interpret and describe the 3D geometry of igneous dykes in the southern North Sea. The dykes were emplaced into Paleozoic and Mesozoic sediments and have a common upper termination in Early Tertiary sediments. We interpret the dykes to be part of the British Tertiary volcanic province and estimate the age of the dykes to be 58 Ma. The dykes are characterized by a narrow 0.5–2 km wide vertical disturbance of seismic reflections that have linear plan view geometry. Negative magnetic anomalies directly align with the vertical seismic disturbance zones and indicate the presence of igneous material. Linear coalesced collapse craters are found above the dykes. The collapse craters have been defined and visualized in 3D. Collapse craters have formed above the dyke due to the release of volatiles at the dyke tip and resulting volume loss. Larger craters have potentially formed due to explosive phreatomagmatic interaction between magma and pore water. The collapse craters are a new Earth analogue to Martian pit chain craters.
An integrated provenance analysis of the Upper Cretaceous Magallanes retroarc foreland basin of southern Chile (50°30′–52°S) provides new constraints on source area evolution, regional patterns of sediment dispersal and depositional age. Over 450 new single-grain detrital-zircon U-Pb ages, which are integrated with sandstone petrographic and mudstone geochemical data, provide a comprehensive detrital record of the northern Magallanes foreland basin-filling succession (>4000-m-thick). Prominent peaks in detrital-zircon age distribution among the Punta Barrosa, Cerro Toro, Tres Pasos and Dorotea Formations indicate that the incorporation and exhumation of Upper Jurassic igneous rocks (ca. 147–155 Ma) into the Andean fold-thrust belt was established in the Santonian (ca. 85 Ma) and was a significant source of detritus to the basin by the Maastrichtian (ca. 70 Ma). Sandstone compositional trends indicate an increase in volcanic and volcaniclastic grains upward through the basin fill corroborating the interpretation of an unroofing sequence. Detrital-zircon ages indicate that the Magallanes foredeep received young arc-derived detritus throughout its ca. 20 m.y. filling history, constraining the timing of basin-filling phases previously based only on biostratigraphy. Additionally, spatial patterns of detrital-zircon ages in the Tres Pasos and Dorotea Formations support interpretations that they are genetically linked depositional systems, thus demonstrating the utility of provenance indicators for evaluating stratigraphic relationships of diachronous lithostratigraphic units. This integrated provenance dataset highlights how the sedimentary fill of the Magallanes basin is unique among other retroarc foreland basins and from the well-studied Andean foreland basins farther north, which is attributed to nature of the predecessor rift and backarc basin.
Integrated geohistory analysis performed on high-resolution stratigraphy of Venezia 1 and Lido 1 wells (Quaternary–Pliocene interval) and low-resolution stratigraphy of a simulated well extending Lido 1 down to the base of Cenozoic (Palaeocene–Miocene interval) is used to reconstruct the interplay between subsidence and sedimentation that occurred in the Venice area (eastern Po Plain) during the last 60 Myr, and to discuss the relationships between calculated subsidence rates and time resolution of stratigraphic data. Both subsidence and sedimentation are mostly related to the tectonic evolution of the belts that surround the Venice basin, influencing the lithosphere vertical motions and the input of clastic sediments through time. In particular, two subsidence phases are recorded between 40–33.5 and 32.5–24 Myr (0.13 and 0.14 mm year−1, respectively), coeval with tectonic phases in the Dinaric belt. Vice versa, during the main South-Alpine orogenic phase (middle–late Miocene), quiescence or little uplift (−0.03 mm year−1) reflects the location of the Venice area close to the peripheral bulge of the South-Alpine foreland system. Early Pliocene evolution is characterised by a number of subsidence/uplift events, among which two uplifts occurred between 5–4.5 and 3–2.2 Myr (at −0.4 and −0.2 mm year−1, respectively) and can be correlated with tectonic motions in the Apennines. During the last million years, the Venice area was initially characterised by uplift (−0.6 mm year−1 rising to −1.5 mm year−1 between 0.4 and 0.38 Myr), eventually replaced by subsidence at a rate ranging between 1.6 and 1.0 mm year−1 up to 0.12 Myr and then decreased to 0.4 mm year−1, as an average, up to present. Our results highlight that time resolution of the stratigraphic dataset deeply influences the order of magnitude obtained for the calculated subsidence rate. This is because subsidence seems to have worked through short-lived peaks (in the order of 105 years), alternating with long relatively quiescent intervals. This suggests caution when components of subsidence are deduced by subtracting long-term to short-term subsidence rate.
The deposition, erosion and deformation of growth strata associated with an actively growing monocline are modelled using mechanically based numerical experiments. The results demonstrate that the nature of the growth-stratal record depends on (1) the interaction between the base-level rate of change and the rate of change of the accommodation space created due to structural relief across the limbs of the monocline; and (2) the progressive folding of the growth strata. With base-level elevation initially coincident with the upper surface of the pre-tectonic units, constant rates of base-level change create three growth-stratal preservation states. If the base level rises, a growth-sediment wedge covers both limbs of the monocline, with thinner sediment thicknesses on the upthrown limb, forming an on-structure wedge. If the base level falls at a rate less than the rate of accommodation space creation due to structural relief, growth-strata pinch out onto the dipping limb of the monocline, forming an off-structure wedge. If the base level falls at a rate greater than the rate of accommodation space generation due to structural relief, no syntectonic deposition occurs and pre-tectonic units on both sides of the monocline are eroded. Syntectonic unconformities develop within the growth-sediment packages when the rate of accommodation space generation changes during the course of the experiment. The bedding angularity across the unconformities is greatest in the region of the dipping limb of the monocline; off structure, the bedding across the correlative event becomes parallel, forming correlative conformities or disconformities.
The Selandien [58 Ma (PP3c-d)] Tyr sand in the Nini area, Siri Fairway, Danish North Sea, is severely influenced by the syn-depositional movement of the Nini Salt Diapir. The sand is faulted and remobilized into a degree where no original depositional signature can be recognized. The Tyr sand is drilled (and cored) by a number of wells, and the sand is never found in the same stratigraphic position. In some wells, the Tyr sand is injected down into the chalk of the Danian Ekofisk Formation, whereas other wells show the Tyr sand embedded in the Selandien Vile Member claystone, with varying degree of remobilization. The Tyr sand is thin (2–7 m) and is therefore below seismic resolution and close to seismic detection. Standard reflection seismic data has proven problematic in determining the actual thickness and spatial distribution of the thin Tyr sand located within or immediately above the chalk. A simultaneous AVO (amplitude vs. offset) inversion using time-aligned angle stack seismic data, has improved resolution of the thin and complex reservoir, allowing a better understanding of the remobilization processes occurring above the rising salt diapir, and thereby an improved understanding of the reservoir and its performance. Three different remobilization features are described: injection into the chalk, injection up along fault planes and compactional driven injection. The force for the remobilization spans in orders of magnitude from metre scale phenomena, to injections of 100s of metres, moving millions of tons of material and fluids.
We employed a discrete-element technique to investigate the effects of cover strength and fault dip on the style of fault-propagation folding above a blind normal fault. Deformation in the cover is initially characterised by an upward-widening monocline that is often replaced, with continued slip on the basement fault, by a single, through-going fault. Localisation on a single fault produces hangingwall synclines and footwall anticlines as a result of breaching of the earlier monocline and which do not represent ‘drag’ against the fault. As basement fault dip decreases the width of the monocline at the surface increases. Experiments varying the strength of the overburden material illustrate the control that cover strength has on both fault propagation and folding in the cover. Reduction of the strength of the cover results in: (1) the width of the monocline above the fault tip increasing, and (2) more marked footwall thinning and hangingwall thickening of beds. In contrast, an increase in cover strength results in a narrower monocline and rapid propagation of the basement fault into the cover. In multi-layer (variable strength) experiments simultaneous faulting of competent layers and flow of weaker layers produces complex structural relationships. Faults in the cover die out up and down section and do not link to the basement fault at depth. Similarly, complex macroscopically ductile characteristics such as footwall thinning and hangingwall thickening can be juxtaposed against simple brittle fault cut-offs. These relationships must be borne in mind when interpreting the field and seismic expression of such structures. We discuss the modelling results in terms of their implications for structural interpretation and the surficial expression of fault-related folding in extensional settings.
Typically, the problem of constructing a balanced cross-section across a fault-propagation fold has been cast in terms of static entities such as fault dip, fold axial angles and limb dips. Increasingly, however, surficial data such as rates of uplift or erosion are becoming available above fault-related folds. These data are often used to derive or constrain fault-slip rates on deeper thrust faults and, ultimately, calculate horizontal shortening rates. However, where thrust faults are blind, there has been no simple method for relating fault geometry and slip to uplift data. This short contribution presents a series of new relationships (derived from velocity descriptions of deformation) that relate fault geometry and slip rate to measurements of uplift above flexural-slip and trishear fault-propagation folds. We examine the differences in uplift across such structures, their implications for the calculation of rates of fault slip and horizontal shortening and make comparisons with natural examples.
Although fault growth is an important control on drainage development in modern rifts, such links are difficult to establish in ancient basins. To understand how the growth and interaction of normal fault segments controls stratigraphic patterns, we investigate the response of a coarse-grained delta system to evolution of a fault array in a Miocene half-graben basin, Suez rift. The early Miocene Alaqa delta complex comprises a vertically stacked set of footwall-sourced Gilbert deltas located in the immediate hangingwall of the rift border fault, adjacent to a major intrabasinal relay zone. Sedimentological and stratigraphic studies, in combination with structural analysis of the basin-bounding fault system, permit reconstruction of the architecture, dispersal patterns and evolution of proximal Gilbert delta systems in relation to the growth and interaction of normal fault segments. Structural geometries demonstrate that fault-related folds developed along the basin margin above upward and laterally propagating normal faults during the early stages of extension. Palaeocurrent data indicate that the delta complex formed a point-sourced depositional system developed at the intersection of two normal fault segments. Gilbert deltas prograded transverse into the basin and laterally parallel to faults. Development of the transverse delta complex is proposed to be a function of its location adjacent to an evolving zone of fault overlap, together with focusing of dispersal between adjacent fault segments growing towards each other. Growth strata onlap and converge onto the monoclinal fold limbs indicating that these structures formed evolving structural topography. During fold growth, Gilbert deltas prograded across the deforming fold surface, became progressively rotated and incorporated into fold limbs. Spatial variability of facies architecture is linked to along-strike variation in the style of fault/fold growth, and in particular variation in rates of crestal uplift and fold limb rotation. Our results clearly show that the growth and linkage of fault segments during fault array evolution has a fundamental control on patterns of sediment dispersal in rift basins.
Turbidites deposited in the Madeira Abyssal Plain during the last 200 000 yr originated mainly from the flanks of the Canary Islands and from the Northwest African continental margin north of the Canaries. Derivation of these turbidites from sources to the east of the abyssal plain apparently contradicts flow direction indicators derived from the sediments on the plain, which indicate derivation from the north-east. However, two systems of shallow channels, mapped using side-scan sonar and 3.5-kHz data, link the easterly sediment sources to the north-eastern edge of the abyssal plain, reconciling the apparently contradictory flow direction data. A northern system originates in the area between Madeira and the Canary Islands and follows a westerly and then north-westerly path, in part cutting obliquely across regional bathymetric trends. It carries sediment from the African continental margin north of the Canary Islands, and from the eastern Canaries, to the north-eastern abyssal plain. The southern channel system carries material from the western Canary Islands more directly westward to the central part of the plain. The pathways of individual turbidites can be reconstructed in some detail, by combining channel mapping with published information on turbidite provenance and flow directions on the Madeira Abyssal Plain. Interaction between turbidity currents and channel morphology controls turbidite depositional patterns. Small turbidites are completely contained within channels 20 m deep and 2 km wide. It is proposed that these are relatively high-density flows which have evolved in crossing the almost flat floor of a basin south-east of Madeira before entering the channel system. Larger turbidites show evidence of flow stripping where they interact with channels, with the result that their coarse and fine fractions follow different paths to and across the abyssal plain.
The deepest part of the Canary Basin, the Madeira Abyssal Plain, receives allochthonous sediments derived from a large drainage basin which, if its subaerial continuation is included, covers an area of 3.36 times 106 km2. An international research effort over the last 10 years has recovered over 160 sediment cores from the plain, and the development of a high-resolution stratigraphy has enabled individual turbidites to be correlated layer by layer. Sedimentation on the Madeira Abyssal Plain during the late Quaternary is dominated by thick turbidite muds separated by thin pelagic intervals. The core density has allowed the mapping of each sedimentary unit throughout the abyssal plain, thus building up a layer by layer picture of sediment accumulation. Over the last 300 kyr, 600 km3 of turbidites compared to 60 km3 of pelagic sediments have been deposited on the plain. Sedimentary structures developed in the coarse basal facies of the larger turbidites are more complex than simple models predict due to surging flows, fluctuating flow velocities and reflection from adjacent high ground. Over the last 300 kyr, there has been a switching of entry points for turbidity currents entering the abyssal plain. From 300 ka to 200 ka, organic-rich turbidites were emplaced predominantly from the south but around 200 ka this source switched off and subsequent organic- and volcanic-rich turbidites, which included units deposited by giant, possibly hyperconcentrated flows, were emplaced from northern or eastern sources. Although restricted to the late Quaternary, the data presented provides a detailed case study of the evolution of an oceanic basin fill.
We investigate the controls on the architecture of coarse-grained delta progradational units (PUs) in the Pliocene Loreto basin (Baja California Sur, Mexico), a half-graben located on the western margin of the Gulf of California. Dorsey et al. (1997b) argued that delta progradation and transgression cycles in the basin were driven by episodic fault-controlled subsidence along the basin-bounding Loreto fault. Here we test this hypothesis by a detailed analysis of the sedimentary architecture of 11 exceptionally well-exposed, vertically arranged fluvio-deltaic PUs, each of which shows lateral facies transition from proximal alluvial facies palaeo-seaward into distal pro-delta facies. Of these 11 PUs, seven exhibit a lateral transition from a shoal water to Gilbert-delta facies associations as they are traced palaeo-seaward. This transition is characterised by down-transport development of foresets, which grow in height up to 35 m. Foreset units thicken in a basinward direction, with initially an oblique topset–foreset geometry that becomes increasingly sigmoidal. Each delta is capped by a shell bed that records drowning of the delta top. This systematic transition in delta architecture records increasing water depth through time during individual episodes of progradation. A mechanism that explains this transition is an accelerating rate of fault-controlled subsidence during each PU. During episodes of low slip rate, shoal-water deltas prograde across the submerged topography of the underlying delta unit. As displacement rate accelerates, increasing bathymetry at the delta front leads to steepening of foresets and initiation of Gilbert deltas. Subsequent delta drowning results from sediment starvation at the shoreline at high slip rates because of sediment trapping upstream. The observed delta architecture suggests that the long-term (>100 kyr) history of slip on the Loreto fault was characterised by repetitive episodes of accelerating displacement accumulation. Such episodic fault behaviour is most likely to be because of variations in temporal and spatial strain partitioning between the Loreto fault and other faults in the Gulf of California. A physical explanation for the acceleration phenomenon involves evolving frictional properties on the episodically active Loreto fault.
Provision of accommodation space for aggradation in Holocene deltaic basins is usually ascribed to eustatic sea-level rise and/or land subsidence due to isostasy, tectonics or sediment compaction. Whereas many Holocene deltas contain peat, the relative contribution of peat compaction to total subsidence has not yet been quantified from field data covering an entire delta. Subsidence due to peat compaction potentially influences temporal and spatial sedimentation patterns, and therefore alluvial architecture. Quantification of the amount and rate of peat compaction was done based on (1) estimates of the initial dry bulk density of peat, derived from a relation between dry bulk density and organic-matter content of uncompacted peat samples and (2) radiocarbon-dated basal peat used to reconstruct initial levels of peat formation of currently subsided peat samples. In the Rhine-Meuse delta, peat compaction has contributed considerably to total basin subsidence. Depending on the thickness of the compressible sequence, weight of the overburden and organic-matter content of peat, subsidence of up to approximately 3 m in a 10-m thick Holocene sequence has been calculated. Calculated local subsidence rates of peat levels are up to 0.6 mm year−1, averaged over millennia, which are twice the estimated Holocene-averaged basin subsidence rates of 0.1–0.3 mm year−1 in the study area. Higher rates of subsidence due to compaction, on the order of a few mm year−1, occur over decades to centuries, following a substantial increase in effective stress caused by sediment loading. Without such an increase in effective stress, peat layers may accumulate for thousands of years with little compaction. Thus, the contribution of peat compaction to total delta subsidence is variable in time. Locally, up to 40% of total Holocene accommodation space has been provided by peat compaction. Implications of the large amount of accommodation space created by peat compaction in deltaic basins are: (1) increased sediment trap efficiency in deltas, which decelerates delta progradation and enhances the formation of relatively thick clastic sequences and (2) enhanced local formation of thick natural levees by renewing existing accommodation space.
Analysis of accommodation space variation during deposition of the Cretaceous Qingshankou Formation in the Songliao Basin, NE China, indicates that accommodation space changed both through time and across the basin as a seesaw movement. The mid-upper Qingshankou Formation is divided into three units. In each unit, changes of accommodation space differ in the southern and northern part of the basin. Increasing accommodation in the southern part is accompanied by a decrease in the northern part, and vice versa. Between the northern and southern basin, there was a neutral belt that is like a fulcrum, called the transformation belt here, where the accommodation did not change to any significant degree. We call this response ‘accommodation transformation’, whose characteristics are defined by tectonic subsidence analysis, palaeontological and sedimentary analyses. The accommodation increasing belt, decreasing belt, transformation belt and accommodation transformation boundary together constitute the accommodation transformation system. The recognition of accommodation transformation in the Songliao Basin provides a new insight into sequence stratigraphy and might be widely applicable.
The stratigraphical organization of the Pliocene thrust-top deposits cropping out at the front of the Southern Apennine thrust-belt has been debated for a long time taking a great importance in the context of the geodynamics of the Central Mediterranean area. During this time, spreading episodes in the Apennine backarc zone alternate with important phases of overthrusting in the thrust-belt. As a consequence, the Pliocene succession appears to be arranged in a series of stacked units, recording the poliphase tectonic history that leads to the building of the front of the southern Apennine thrust-belt. Although there is not yet an accordance on the nature and position of the main unconformities bounding the thrust-top units, all authors agree that the creation of new accommodation space is mainly ruled by contractional tectonics consequent to the eastward nappe propagation according to the Apennine vergence polarity. A detailed geological survey, carried out along a large portion of southern Apennine thrust-belt front, running south of the Vulture volcano, allowed the collecting of new data concerning the basinal-formation mechanisms acting during the sedimentation of Pliocene deposits. From this analysis, it is clear that even if contractional tectonics is the predominant factor controlling the creation or destruction of accommodation space, other mechanisms, as well as wedge uplift-related extensional tectonics and eustasy, could have also played a significant role in the basin accommodation. In order the considered sector of southern Apennines can provide an useful example about the complex phenomena occurring at mountain belt front where the accommodation space results from a concomitance of eustatic and tectonic factors mainly linked to the accretionary wedge activity.
A thrust wedge with unusual geometry has developed under very oblique (50–60°) convergence between the Pacific and Australian Plates, along the 240-km length of the Fiordland margin, New Zealand. The narrow (25 km-wide) wedge comprises three overlapping components, lying west of the offshore section of the Alpine Fault, and straddles a change of > 30° in the regional strike of the plate boundary. Swath bathymetry, marine seismic reflection profiles, and dated samples together reveal the stratigraphy, structure, and evolution of the wedge and the underthrusting, continental, Caswell High (Australian Plate).
Sedimentary bodies emplaced by mass-wasting processes and exceeding tens of metres of thickness and a hundred of square kilometres in area are widespread in the Cretaceous–Pleistocene marine successions of the Northern Apennines of Italy. At least 10 such bodies are present in the stratigraphic record of the Oligo-Miocene foredeep during the northeastern, time-transgressive migration of the accretionary wedge-foredeep system. The term mass-wasting complex (MWC) is here adopted for these bodies to emphasize their multistory emplacement mechanism and polymictic composition with variously deformed slabs of different lithology, age and provenance. As one of the more intriguing features, their occurrence was associated with changes in turbidite deposition from basin plain to slope. Wide sectors of the internal margin of the basin (lobe-fan) and even of the basin plain become a slope at the front of the accretionary wedge for a limited period of time (temporary slope). The temporary slope supplied the intrabasinal components of the MWCs, whereas the diffused extrabasinal components came from the front of the accretionary wedge. Therefore, an enhanced instability of the entire foredeep-wedge system occurred systematically and cyclically. As a consequence, many variously consolidated sediments were transferred into the foredeep basin invading the depocentre and forcing the turbidite deposition towards the foreland, in a more northeasterly position. The presence of such MWCs therefore conditioned basin size and geometry in an analogous way as that reported for some modern convergent margins, as in the case of Costa Rica. Normal sedimentation was restored on top of the MWC only after the levelling of topographic irregularities.
We present results of three sand-box experiments that model the association between tectonic accretion and sedimentation in a forearc basin. Experimental sedimentation occurs step by step in the forearc basin during shortening of the sand wedge. In each experiment, the development of the accretionary wedge leads to the formation of a major backthrust zone. This major deformation zone accounts for the thickening in the rear part of the wedge. In natural settings this tectonic bulge dams sediments that are transported toward the trench from mountainous terrain behind the forearc. We test the variation of friction along the déollement and note the following: (1) shortening of a low-friction wedge involves a mechanical balance between forethrusts and backthrust propagation and this balance is recorded by the sedimentary sequence trapped in the forearc basin. Indeed, if most of the movement occurs along the backthrust, the deepening of the basin will be larger and consequently the thickness of the sedimentary sequence will be greater. (2) Such balance does not exist in the case of a high-friction wedge. (3) Variation of friction along the décollement during shortening of the sand wedge leads to modification in the forearc basin filling. Thus, for similar increments of convergence, the sequence deposited in the forearc basin shows relatively larger thickness when the wedge is shortened above a high-friction décollement. We suggest that contraction and thickening in the rear part of the wedge is an efficient mechanism to, initiate and develop a forearc basin. Thus, this kind of basin occurs in convergent settings, without collapse related to local extension or tectonic erosion. They represent a sedimentary trap on a passive basement, bounded by a tectonic bulge. The Quaternary Hikurangi forearc basin, southeast of the North Island of New Zealand, is bounded by two actively uplifting ridges. Thus, this basin is considered to be a possible example of the basins modelled in our experiments, and we suggest that the limit between the basin and the wedge could be a complex backthrust zone.
Headless submarine canyons with steep headwalls and shallowly sloping floors occur on both the second and third landward vergent anticlines on the toe of the Cascadia accretionary complex off central Oregon (45 °N, 125° 30′W). In September 1993, we carried out a series of nine deep tow camera sled runs and nine ALVIN dives to examine the relationship between fluid venting, structure and canyon formation. We studied four canyons on the second and third landward vergent anticlines, as well as the apparently unfailed intercanyon regions along strike. All evidence of fluid expulsion is associated with the canyons; we found no evidence of fluid flow between canyons. Even though all fluid seeps are related to canyons, we did not find seeps in all canyons, and the location of the seeps within the canyons differed. On the landward facing limb of the second landward vergent anticline a robust cold seep community occurs at the canyon’s inflection point. This seep is characterized by chemosynthetic vent clams, tube worms and extensive authigenic carbonate. Fluids for this seep may utilize high-permeability flow paths either parallel to bedding within the second thrust ridge or along the underlying thrust fault before leaking into the overriding section. Two seaward facing canyons on the third anticlinal ridge have vent clam communities near the canyon mouths at approximately the intersection between the anticlinal ridge and the adjacent forearc basin. No seeps were found along strike at the intersection of the slope basin and anticlinal ridge. We infer that the lack of seepage along strike and the presence of seeps in canyons may be related to fluid flow below the forearc basin/slope unconformity (overpressured by the impinging thrust fault to the west?) directed toward canyons at the surface.
ABSTRACTA 1000 km2 three-dimensional (3D) seismic data survey that extends out from the western margin of the Porcupine Basin, offshore western Ireland reveals the internal geometry and depositional history of a large Palaeogene (Palaeocene–Early Eocene) shelf-margin. Two wells intersect the margin thereby constraining the depositional environments. The 34/19-1 well (landward end) intersects slope, shelf, marginal marine to coastal plain facies. The 35/21-1 well (basinward end) intersects seismically imaged shelf-margin clinoforms where base of slope back up to coastal plain deposits (source-to-sink) are represented. The basin-fill stratal architecture of the Palaeogene succession reveals sediment deposition under two end member, basin physiographic styles: (1) an erosional margin style and (2) an accretionary or progradational margin style. Uplift of the western margin of the basin is suggested as the major cause of the initially oversteepened shelf-slope erosional profile. Key characteristics of an erosional margin include sediment bypass of the shelf, canyon formation, and the development of significant onlapping submarine fan deposits on the lower slope. Failure on the slope is also revealed by several mass–transport complexes (MTCs) that carve out major erosive features across the slope. Three-dimensional seismic analysis illustrates variations in size, geometry and depositional trend and transport mechanisms of the MTCs. Confined, thick chaotic seismic facies, erosional basal scours and syn-depositional thrusting (pressure ridges) at terminus as opposed to thin, high-amplitude discontinuous facies with an unconfined lobate terminus are interpreted to indicate slump- and slide-dominated vs. debris flow-dominated MTCs, respectively. The erosional margin was transformed into an accretionary margin when the gradient of the shelf-slope to basin-floor profile was sufficiently lowered through the infilling and healing of the topographic lows by the onlapping submarine-fan deposits. This shallowing of the basin allowed nearshore systems to prograde across the deepwater systems. The accretionary margin was characterised by a thick sediment prism composed of clinoforms both at the shoreface/delta (tens of metres) and shelf-margin (hundreds of metres) scales. Shelf-margin clinoforms, the focus of this study, are the fundamental regressive to transgressive building blocks (duration 10–100 kyr) of the stratigraphic succession and can be observed on a larger scale (∼1 Myr) through the migration and trajectory patterns of the shelf-edge. Trajectory pathways in the accretionary margin are accretionary in a descending or ascending manner. The descending style was characterised by a shelf-slope break that migrated seawards and obliquely downwards as a result of a relative sea-level fall. The descending trajectory geometry is lobate along strike suggestive of a point source progradation. Internally, the descending trajectory consists of downward stepping, steeply dipping shelf-margin clinoforms that display extensive slumping and deposition of sediment on the lower slope indicative of rapid deposition. Furthermore, basin-floor fans and associated ‘feeder’ channels extend basinwards beyond toe of slope. The ascending trajectory reflects a shelf-slope break that is interpreted to have migrated seawards during steady or rising relative sea level. The ascending trajectory geometry is associated with significant lateral sediment dispersal along the shelf-edge, reflecting distributary systems that were less ‘fixed’ or a greater reworking and longshore drift of sediment. Accretion involving the ascending shelf-edge trajectory characteristically lacked significant basin-floor deposits. Variable ascending trajectories are recognised in this study, as read from the angle at which the shelf-slope break migrates. Horizontal to high angle ascending trajectories correspond to dominantly progradational and dominantly aggradational shelf-edge trajectories, respectively. The sequence stratigraphic analysis of the Porcupine deltaic complex reveals a long-term relative sea-level rise.
A combination of geomorphological, seismic reflection and geotechnical data constrains this study of sediment erosion and deposition at the toe of the Cascadia accretionary prism. We conducted a series of ALVIN dives in a region south of Astoria Canyon to examine the interrelationship of fluid flow and slope failure in a series of headless submarine canyons. Elevated head gradients at the inflection point of canyons have been inferred to assist in localized failures that feed sediment into a closed slope basin. Measured head gradients are an order of magnitude too low to cause seepage-induced slope failure alone; we therefore propose transient slope failure mechanisms. Intercanyon slopes are uniformly unscarred and smooth, although consolidation tests indicate that up to several metres of material may have been removed. A sheet-like failure would remove sediment uniformly, preserving the observed smooth intercanyon slope. Earthquake-induced liquefaction is a likely trigger for this type of sheet failure as the slope is too steep and short for sediment flow to organize itself into channels. Bathymetric and seismic reflection data suggest sediment in a trench slope basin between the second and third ridges from the prism’s deformation is derived locally. A comparison of the amounts of material removed from the slopes and that in the basin shows that the amount of material removed from the slopes may slightly exceed the amount of material in the basin, implying that a small amount of sediment has escaped the basin, perhaps when the second ridge was too low to form a sufficient dam, or through a gap in the second ridge to the south. Regardless, almost 80% of the material shed off the slopes around the basin is deposited locally, whereas the remaining 20% is redeposited on the incoming section and will be re-accreted.
We use coupled numerical models (HydroTrend and SedFlux) to investigate the dispersal and accumulation of sediment on Poverty Shelf, North Island, New Zealand, during the past 3 kyr. In this timeframe, we estimate that the Waipaoa River system delivered ∼10 Gt of sediment to Poverty Shelf, 5–10% of which was transported to the outer shelf and continental slope. The domain of the two-dimensional model (SedFlux) is representative of a 30 km traverse across the shelf. Comparing the model output with seismic reflection data and a core obtained from the middle shelf shows that, without extensively modifying the governing equations or imposing unrealistic conditions on the model domain, it is possible to replicate the geometry, grain size and accumulation rate of the late Holocene mud deposit. The replicate depositional record responds to naturally and anthropogenically induced vegetation disturbance, as well as to storms forced by long-period climatic events simulated entirely within the model domain. The model output also suggests that long-term fluctuations in the amount and caliber of river sediment discharge, promoted by wholesale changes in the catchment environment, may be translated directly to the shelf depositional record, whereas short-term fluctuations conditioned by event magnitude and frequency are not. Thus on Poverty Shelf, as well as in depocenters on other active continental margins which retain a much smaller proportion of the terrigeneous sediment delivered to them, flood-generated event beds are not commonplace features in the high-resolution sedimentary record. This is because the shelf sedimentary record is influenced more by the energy available to the coastal ocean which helps keep the sediment in suspension and facilitates its dispersal, than by basin hydrometeorology which determines the turbidity and velocity of the river plume.
Tectonically active coastal regions of the world recently have been suggested to supply the bulk of sediment from land to the oceans. Seabed sampling on the continental shelf and in coastal embayments of the north-east Gulf of Alaska (Alsek River to Prince William Sound) was performed to examine the temporal and spatial variability of sediment accumulation in a mountainous coastal setting. Cores of varying lengths (30–300 cm) were collected at 84 stations to provide information on sedimentary processes using radiochemical (210Pb and 137Cs) techniques. Four types of 210Pb activity profiles were observed, dominantly reflecting steady-state sediment accumulation. However, nonsteady-state profiles also were measured, resulting in part from episodic deposition near glacier-fed rivers and on the Copper River Delta. Sediment accumulation rates in the eastern half of the study area are highest at midshelf depths (≈100 m) (≥10 mm yr−1) and near rivers draining the Bering Glacier (≈20 mm yr−1). On the Copper River Delta, sediment accumulation rates are highest for the delta front (> 20 mm yr−1) and decrease westward along the sediment dispersal route. Total annual sediment accumulation is 90–140×106 tons yr−1 on the shelf in the study area. Annual sediment accumulation for the total marine environment in the study area (including Icy and Yakutat Bays) exceeds 250×106 tons yr−1, potentially making this region the largest sink for sediment in North America. Spatial patterns in sediment accumulation on the shelf are similar between centennial and Holocene time-scales, reflecting the dominance of the Copper River and Bering and Malaspina glaciers as sediment sources. Temporal variability in accumulation rates between centennial and Holocene time-scales exists for portions of the study area near fiords and demonstrates the considerable changes that occur in sediment supply during glacial advances and retreats.
The occurrence of cyclic patterns of sedimentation on a large scale, or abrupt changes in lithology or facies patterns in foreland basins, are most commonly attributed to tectonism. Climatic controls are invoked much less often, and geomorphic controls are rarely considered except for small-scale features. Tectonism is the first-order control on sedimentation at mountain fronts by providing accommodation space for sediment accumulation, and the requisite energy for the system to operate. However, geomorphic controls on sediment yield from source areas, transformation of sediment yield in transfer systems, and feedback mechanisms between source areas and depositional basins may be the secondary controls on sediment dispersal and accumulation near mountain fronts.
Our study explores the geohydraulic history of the Acre retroarc foreland basin by gathering both spatial and temporal information from the upper 400 m of sediments. We also inquire into controls on sediment accommodation space as well as on stream vs. lacustrine domination.The Acre basin is located in south-west Amazonia, proximal to the Serra do Divisor which demarcates the eastern edge of the Andean fold–thrust belt. Radiocarbon ages from a range of materials indicate that the upper 50–250 m of the Solimôes Formation accumulated during the past 50 000 years. Both surficial and drill-core sediment records show lacustrine–fluvial transitions throughout the Late Quaternary. These shifts in depositional environments are in response to episodic changes in hydrological conditions as well as to geodynamic activity, such as subsidence. Juxtaposition of lacustrine and fluvial systems in the vertical Acre basin record mimics the regional-scale trends in the modern, upper and middle Solimôes–Amazon floodplains.In the Acre basin record lacustrine successions are characterized by increasing calcium contents up-section. This is also manifested, in the upper portions of lacustrine sequences outcropping at the surface, as alternating clastic and calcareous layers. The up-section increase in carbonate content is related to increasing salinities brought about by drier hydrodynamic conditions. Desiccation cracks are typically infilled with gypsum as are cavities of fossils in bone-beds. The latter represent isolated ponds in which the original fauna died as aridity intensified and waters became increasingly saline.Modern trunk river systems in the Acre basin flow from south-west to north-east with tributaries entering from the south-west, suggesting the influence of a domino-style, basement, fault regime. Fault or, at least, fracture control on stream channels is also suggested throughout the greater Amazon basin in the orthogonal dispositions and asymmetric terrace systems of trunk rivers as well as of major tributaries.
Sequence stratigraphy provides an understanding of the interplay between eustasy, sediment supply and accommodation in the sedimentary construction of passive margins. We used this approach to follow the early to middle Miocene growth of the New Jersey margin and analyse the connection between relative changes of sea level and variable sediment supply. Eleven candidate sequence boundaries were traced in high-resolution multi-channel seismic profiles across the inner margin and matched to geophysical log signatures and lithologic changes in ODP Leg 150X onshore coreholes. Chronologies at these drill sites were then used to assign ages to the intervening seismic sequences. We conclude that the regional and global correlation of early Miocene sequences suggests a dominant role of global sea-level change but margin progradation was controlled by localized sediment contribution and that local conditions played a large role in sequence formation and preservation. Lowstand deposits were regionally restricted and their locations point to both single and multiple sediment sources. The distribution of highstand deposits, by contrast, documents redistribution by along shelf currents. We find no evidence that sea level fell below the elevation of the clinoform rollover, and the existence of extensive lowstand deposits seaward of this inflection point indicates efficient cross-shelf sediment transport mechanisms despite the apparent lack of well-developed fluvial drainage.
We propose and test a conceptual framework for evaluating the relative timing of different types of sedimentary indicators of tectonism in alluvial foreland basin settings. We take the first occurrence of a detrital grain from a newly exposed source-area lithology to provide the best indicator of the onset of tectonic uplift in the source area. Source-area unroofing may lag behind initial uplift because of the type, thickness and structure of rocks in the uplifted mountain block, drainage patterns and climate. However, once exposed, advective transport disperses grains quickly throughout fluvial systems. Because of increased subsidence rate from thrust belt loading, an increase in sedimentation rate begins coincident with tectonic load emplacement within the flexural half-width of the basin. However, farther out into the basin increased sedimentation rates lag behind the composition signal because of time lags associated with propagation of the thrust load and attendant sediment loads into the basin. The progradation of syntectonic gravel lags behind all of these signals as a direct function of the relative proportion of gravel fraction within transported sediment and rates and geometry of subsidence, which selectively traps the coarsest grain-size fractions in the most proximal parts of the basin.
Deposition and subsidence analysis, coupled with previous structural studies of the Sevier thrust belt, provide a means of reconstructing the detailed kinematic history of depositional response to episodic thrusting in the Cordilleran foreland basin of southern Wyoming, western interior USA. The Upper Cretaceous basin fill is divided into five megasequences bounded by unconformities. The Sevier thrust belt in northern Utah and southwestern Wyoming deformed in an eastward progression of episodic thrusting. Three major episodes of displacement on the Willard-Meade, Crawford and ‘early’ Absaroka thrusts occurred from Aptian to early Campanian, and the thrust wedge gradually became supercritically tapered. The Frontier Formation conglomerate, Echo Canyon and Weber Canyon Conglomerates and Little Muddy Creek Conglomerate were deposited in response to these major thrusting events. Corresponding to these proximal conglomerates within the thrust belt, Megasequences 1, 2 and 3 were developed in the distal foreland of southern Wyoming. Two-dimensional (2-D) subsidence analyses show that the basin was divided into foredeep, forebulge and backbulge depozones. Foredeep subsidence in Megasequences 1, 2 and 3, resulting from Willard-Meade, Crawford and ‘early’ Absaroka thrust loading, were confined to a narrow zone in the western part of the basin. Subsidence in the broad region east of the forebulge was dominantly controlled by sediment loading and inferred dynamic subsidence. Individual subsidence curves are characterized by three stages from rapid to slow. Controlled by relationships between accommodation and sediment supply, the basin was filled with retrogradational shales during periods of rapid subsidence, followed by progradational coarse clastic wedges during periods of slow subsidence. During middle Campanian time (ca. 78.5–73.4 Ma), the thrust wedge was stalled because of wedge-top erosion and became subcritical, and the foredeep zone eroded and rebounded because of isostasy. The eroded sediments were transported far from the thrust belt, and constitute Megasequence 4 that was mostly composed of fluvial and coastal plain depositional systems. Subsidence rates were very slow, because of post-thrusting rebound, and the resulting 2-D subsidence was lenticular in an east–west direction. During late Campanian to early Maastrichtian time, widespread deposits of coarse sediment (the Hams Fork Conglomerate) aggraded the top of the thrust wedge after it stalled, prior to initiation of ‘late’ Absaroka thrusting. Meanwhile Megasequence 5 was deposited in the Wyoming foreland under the influence of both the intraforeland Wind River basement uplift and the Sevier thrust belt.
Abstract Detailed single-channel continuous seismic reflection profiling data from four gulfs as well as onshore neotectonic investigations have allowed the study of the neotectonic structure of the Hellenic arc along a complete transverse section from its external area in the trench to the internal back-arc area. Messiniakos Gulf is an asymmetric NW-SE structure with considerable tilt towards the NE. It is the direct continuation of the continental slope from the trench to the island arc (Peloponnesus, Crete, Dodekannese). Argolikos Gulf is an almost symmetric NW-SE graben occupying the northern edge of the Cretan back-arc basin. Saronikos Gulf is a multi-complex structure of a NW-SE graben in the SW (Epidaurus Basin) and alternation of E-W horsts and grabens in the North. Its neotectonic evolution is characterized by the Plio-Quaternary volcanic arc activity. Southern Evoikos Gulf is a relatively shallow neotectonic graben in the back-arc area at the northern prolongation of the Cycladic Platform. Each of the above neotectonic basins has its own characteristics which are probably due to their geodynamic position in the Hellenic arc. In general, there is a decrease in the neotectonic deformation, the sediment thickness and the sedimentation rates from SW to NE, going from the periphery to the core of the arc.
Rifted continental margins generally display an interior, low-relief, highly weathered upland area and a deeply incised, high-relief coastal area. The boundary between the two zones is commonly demarcated by an abrupt, seaward-facing escarpment. We investigate the rate and pattern of escarpment erosion and landscape evolution along the passive margin of south-east Australia, in the region of the New England Tableland. The process of rifting is shown to initiate an escarpment across which rivers flow, resulting in an escarpment that takes the form of dramatic, elongated gorges. Using a mass balance approach, we estimate the volume/unit length of continental material eroded seaward of the escarpment to be between 41 and 68 km2, approximately an order of magnitude less than the 339 km2 of terrigenous sediments calculated to have been deposited offshore, but consistent with earlier denudation estimates based on apatite fission track data. On the bedrock rivers draining the New England Tableland region, the escarpment is manifested as a series of sharp knickpoints punctuating the river longitudinal profiles. The knickpoints are situated the same distance upstream along the different channels and uniform escarpment retreat rates on the order of 2 km Myr−1 are estimated, despite some differences in bedrock lithologies. Gorge head migration appears to be very important as a bedrock incision mechanism. Field observations indicate a coupling between escarpment retreat and knickpoint propagation, bedrock channel incision, and hillslope development.
Top-cited authors
Peter Decelles
  • The University of Arizona
Katherine A Giles
  • University of Texas at El Paso
Joe Cartwright
  • University of Oxford
Douglas W. Burbank
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
Christopher A-L Jackson
  • The University of Manchester