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Abstract

In the middle slope section of the Lower Congo Basin a late Miocene channel system was tracked on 3D seismic profiles over more than 350 km. Along its course, between shelf and basin, the system encountered four regional tectonic structures that induced local slope modifications, either by uplift or by subsidence. The turbidite deposits of this channel system were influenced strongly by these structures, in terms of both character and morphology. From the proximal to the distal part of this channel system, variations in parameters such as the sinuosity, the width and depth of basal incision, the presence of splay and levee deposits, the location of vertical aggradation zones and channel avulsion, all correlate with changes in longitudinal slope gradient. Thus, along a conventional sigmoidal slope, the convex regions are subjected to erosional processes whereas the concave regions are depositional. The direct relationship observed between sedimentary deposits and changing slope gradient highlights an important control in deep-water turbidite systems. This apparent response to local gradient changes on the slope suggests the existence of a sedimentary equilibrium profile similar to that defined for fluvial systems.

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