Base of Slope to Abyssal Plain
2012. "Base of Slope to Abyssal Plain", Application of the Principles of Seismic Geomorphology to Continental Slope and Base-of-Slope Systems: Case Studies from SeaFloor and Near-Sea Floor Analogues, Bradford E. Prather, Mark E. Deptuck, David Mohrig, Berend Van Hoorn, Russell B. Wynn
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The Kramis deep-sea fan extends over 45 km at the base of the western Algerian continental slope between 2000 and 2550 m water depth and covers an area of approximately 1200 km2. The Kramis Fan was initiated after Messinian time, evolved during the Plio-Quaternary, and, is still active, as proved by submarine cable breaks during the 1954 Orléansville earthquake. The Kramis Fan is fed by two perpendicular canyons: the Kramis Canyon and the Khadra Canyon, merging in a single E–W-oriented channel confined at the foot of the slope. It is strongly asymmetric with a super-developed levee on the right-hand side of the channel, the Kramis Ridge.
Based on recent multibeam, side-scan sonar, and sediment core data (Maradja, 2003 and 2005, Prisma, 2004, and Prisme, 2007 cruises), we describe the morphology and internal structure of the fan and particularly the sediment ridge, showing marked lateral changes in the sediment-wave morphology and their association with a series of large scours in the intermediate part of the ridge aligned in the continuity of the Khadra Canyon direction. Overall, the Kramis Ridge is formed by turbidity currents overspilling the ridge crest, which is 100 m above the channel floor, with two exceptions. In the distal part of the ridge the subdued ridge-crest height probably causes continuous overspill, testified by sediment waves migrating parallel to the channel. The scours occur in the intermediate part of the ridge where the ridge height is only 50–60 m; scours are interpreted as the result of cyclic steps due to flow stripping of currents provided by the intersection of the Khadra Canyon with the Kramis Canyon and Channel system. The scours probably postdate the main growth of the Kramis Ridge and induce the local erosion of the ridge, which could correspond to a new channel initiation cutting the ridge. The superposition or the interaction of flows with different directions is responsible of the amplification of the size of the sediment waves with erosional downside flanks and their transformation in scours. The Kramis Fan provides a clear example of flow interaction to explain the presence of large sediment waves and scours on modern submarine fans.
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Application of the Principles of Seismic Geomorphology to Continental Slope and Base-of-Slope Systems: Case Studies from SeaFloor and Near-Sea Floor Analogues
The study of near-seafloor deepwater landscapes and the processes that form them are as important to the understanding of deeply buried marine depositional systems as the study of modern fluvial environments is to our understanding of ancient terrestrial depositional systems. In fact, these near-seafloor studies follow in the great tradition established by earlier clastic sedimentologists in the use of modern systems to understand ancient environments. The acquisition and mapping of exploration 3D seismic surveys over the last few decades allows for the study of seafloor geomorphology with a spatial resolution comparable to most deepwater multibeam bathymetric tools, and represents a significant advancement that can be used to push forward general understanding of slope and base-of-slope depositional systems through the application of the emerging science of seismic geomorphology. The papers assembled for this volume demonstrate the utility of seafloor-to-shallow subsurface data sets in studying the development of submarine landscapes and their affiliated sedimentary deposits. These contributions highlight the controls of slope morphology on patterns of both sedimentation and erosion. Many of the papers also highlight the influence of pre-existing seafloor relief on confining sediment-gravity flows specific transport pathways, thereby affecting subsequent evolution of the seafloor. The understanding of depositional processes that comes from studying deepwater analogue systems remains the best way take to knowledge from one basin or system and apply confidently to another for prediction and characterization of reservoirs for exploration and production of hydrocarbons.