Abstract

The lower continental slope of Morocco's west coast consists of Triassic-age salt manifested in the form of diapirs, tongues, sheets, canopies, and toe thrusts. Active salt diapirism and regional tectonics greatly influence the morphology of the modern sea floor, forming a severely rugose expression with ongoing minibasin development and episodic submarine failure. Detailed mapping of a 1064-km2 (411-mi2) seismic survey acquired in the Safi Haute Mer area revealed that Jurassic to Holocene salt mobilization continually affected distribution of sediment, causing a range of depositional flow styles, from slumps to sheet slides and mass-transport complexes (MTCs). Large sediment waves (20 km [12 mi] long, 1.5-km [0.9-mi] wavelength) were also documented at the end of the Aptian. An east-west–trending structural anticline downdip of the salt activated during initiation of the Atlas uplift in the latest Cretaceous to earliest Tertiary and shaped much of the lower slope into the Tertiary with a persistent canyon system and slope channels. The largest of the debris flows is a Cretaceous-age MTC, a 500-m (1640-ft)-thick flow that spans an area of up to 20,000 km2 (7722 mi2). Composing the MTC are (1) chaotic, mounded seismic facies; (2) internal syndepositional thrusts; and (3) transported megablocks (3.3 km2 [1.3 mi2]) with preserved internal stratigraphy. The MTC originated from an upslope collapse of a narrow shelf during the earliest phases of the Alpine orogeny.

You do not currently have access to this article.