Abstract

A 15,000-km2 (5792-mi2) three-dimensional seismic data survey that covers the shelf-slope transition of the eastern offshore Trinidad continental margin reveals the geometry and depositional history of the last maximum glacial lowstand shelf-margin succession. Despite the lack of well information at these shallow depths, the quality and continuity of the seismic data allow us to pursue a detailed seismic stratigraphic interpretation of the last lowstand margin succession. The basin-fill stratal architecture of the studied stratigraphic interval shows a great deal of lateral and vertical variability along the continental margin during the Pleistocene to Holocene. Three geomorphological elements controlled the character of the accommodation within the basin and were crucial in transporting, delivering, and storing sediment supply from shelf to slope areas: (1) the Columbus sedimentary pathway on the shelf, (2) bypass zones in the shelf-break region, and (3) deep-water depocenters. The location and geometry of these geomorphological elements within the basin are clearly controlled by underlying structures, transpressional to the north and gravity driven to the south. Migration of the paleo-Orinoco delta system across the shelf was also a key factor in defining the stratigraphic geometries that are observed within the shelf break. Development of shelf-edge versus outer-shelf deltaic systems on the continental margin was controlled by the nature of sediment supply at specific times, as well as by the availability of accommodation, although, to a lesser extent, to relative sea level fluctuations. The interpretation also showed that, for time-equivalent units, parts of the shelf-edge region could develop as an erosional margin (sediment bypass zones), whereas other parts of the shelf edge could behave as an accretionary margin (sediment accumulation). The sequence-stratigraphic interpretation that was attempted in this work also demonstrated that the characteristics of systems tracts can abruptly change along strike in the shelf-edge region for time-equivalent units. These changes can be misleading if a genetic interpretation is pursued only on the basis of the definition of system tracts in the shelf-edge region without the consideration of a complete regional framework.

You do not currently have access to this article.