Submarine slope systems: processes and products
Published:January 01, 2005
Understanding of the processes operating on submarine slopes, the preserved depositional products and post-depositional modifications to sediment body geometries through instability and remobilization requires integration of data from modern slopes with information derived from seismic and outcrop studies of ancient slope successions. Although local factors are important, key generic concepts that aid in predicting submarine slope processes and products include: (1) shelf accommodation/lateral sediment supply variations on sediment delivery; (2) the spatial/temporal distribution of characteristic styles/intensities of sediment instability and remobilization; and (3) a generalized model for the stratigraphic development of slope channel complexes, slope fans and the temporal relationships between these major components of slope stratigraphy.
Key remaining problems include bridging the gap between the timescales sampled by Recent to late Quaternary studies and those represented by ancient slope successions. Moreover, present-day highstand conditions may not provide a good analogue for lowstand slope settings. Future research efforts will also concentrate on better calibration of seismic facies to rock facies and linking of physical and numerical (process and forward) modelling techniques at different scales to observational datasets. The future lies in integration of these complementary research directions.
Figures & Tables
Submarine Slope Systems: Processes and Products
Submarine slopes provide the critical link between shallow-water and deep-water sedimentary environments. They accumulate a sensitive record of sediment supply, accommodation creation/destruction, and tectonic processes during basin filling. There is a complex stratigraphic response to the interplay between parameters that control the evolution of submarine slope systems, e.g. slope gradient, topographic complexity, sediment flux and calibre, base-level change,tectonic setting, and post-depositional sediment remobilization processes. The increased understanding of submarine slope system has been driven partly by the discovery of large hydrocarbon fields in morphologically complex slope settings, such as the Gulf of Mexico and offshore West Africa, and has led to detailed case studies and improved generic models for their evolution. This volume brings together research papers from modern, outcrop and subsurface settings to highlight these recent advances in understanding of the stratigraphic evolution of submarine slope systems.