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Book Chapter

Shelf Systems

Published:
January 01, 1984

Abstract

Shelf processes most effective in transporting bed-load sediment are related to tides, storm waves and surge, and wind-forced currents.

In a Mediterranean basin, such as the Gulf of Mexico, tide range is limited and tidal processes have likely been of minor importance.

Below fair-weather wave base, which establishes the depth of the shoreface (typically about 30 ft or 10 m in modern and Tertiary Gulf Coast), storm waves may entrain and transport sediment to depths of a few hundred feet. Hummocky crossbedding is now popularized as a key sedimentary structure indicative of storm wave action on the shelf.

Storm surge occurs when wind and barometric pressure pile water against the shore. With passage of the storm, return flow also generates bottom currents capable of sand transport.

Wind-forced currents are produced at shallow to moderate depths as storm winds pile water against the shore. Unlike storm surge, flow may continue for several days. Flow is deflected along strike by the shoreface. Combined offshore transport (ebb surge) and strike transport (wind-forced currents) may play a major role in sand deposition in water depths below normal current action and at the shelf edge. Such processes rapidly lose their impact in deeper water beyond the shelf edge, however.

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AAPG Continuing Education Course Notes Series

Structural and Depositional Styles of Gulf Coast Tertiary Continental Margins: Application to Hydrocarbon Exploration

Martin P.A. Jackson
Martin P.A. Jackson
Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin
Search for other works by this author on:
William E. Galloway
William E. Galloway
Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin
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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Volume
25
ISBN electronic:
9781629811543
Publication date:
January 01, 1984

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