The Eirik Drift: A long-term barometer of North Atlantic deepwater flux south of Cape Farewell, Greenland
S. E. Hunter, D. Wilkinson, J. Stanford, D. A. V. Stow, S. Bacon, A. M. Akhmetzhanov, N. H. Kenyon, 2007. "The Eirik Drift: A long-term barometer of North Atlantic deepwater flux south of Cape Farewell, Greenland", Economic and Palaeoceanographic Significance of Contourite Deposits, A. R. Viana, M. Rebesco
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The Eirik Drift lies on the slope and rise off the southern tip of the Greenland margin where it formed under the influence of the North Atlantic deep western boundary current. The drift contains a semi-continuous and often expanded sedimentary record ranging from Early Eocene to Holocene and so contains a record of bottom current strengths over decadal to millennial time scales. These variations in current strength can be related to changes in thermohaline circulation and climate. The drift body is composed of four seismic sequences, with a number of internal discontinuities, reflecting a variety of palaeoceanographic events. Three secondary ridges are observed trending to the NW from the main ridge crest. The presence of these ridges, which have been active since the Early Pliocene, suggests that the deep current separates into three strands as it crosses the Eirik Drift, with each strand depositing a separate ridge. Variation in the degree of lateral migration within the Early to Late Pliocene sequence between ridges reflects local variation in the angle of slope on which the ridges formed. Cyclicity of reflector amplitude within the Late Pliocene to Pleistocene sequence could reflect changes in carbonate accumulation and deep current strength linked to glacial-interglacial variations.
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There has lately been a growth in the number and level of studies of contourite deposits. Most recent studies of contourites have two major lines of interest. One, propelled by the oil industry's continuous move into increasingly deep waters, concerns their economic significance. The other involves the stratigraphic/palaeoceanographic record of ocean circulation changes imprinted on contourite deposits that can be a key to understanding better the climate-ocean connection. The application of many different theoretical, experimental and empirical resources provided by geophysics, sedimentology, geochemistry, petrology, scale modeling and field geology are used in the 16 papers of this volume, proposing answers to those two main aspects. The papers are subdivided into two major categories (economic interest and stratigraphic/palaeoceanographic significance), with case studies ranging from well-documented drifts to new examples of modern and fossil series, involving a large diversity of geographic and physiographic scenarios worldwide.