Wave-form sheeted contourite drift on the Barra Fan, NW UK continental margin
Published:January 01, 2002
Paul C. Knutz, E John W. Jones, John A. Howe, Tjeerd J. C. Van Weering, Dorrik A. V. Stow, 2002. "Wave-form sheeted contourite drift on the Barra Fan, NW UK continental margin", Deep-Water Contourite Systems: Modern Drifts and Ancient Series, Seismic and Sedimentary Characteristics, D. A. V. Stow, C. J. Pudsey, J. A. Howe, J.-C. Faugères, A. R. Viana
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The lithology of a 30 m long piston core (MD95-2006) and high-resolution, seismic profiles from the lower Barra Fan, Rockall Trough, reveal a sheeted drift form with internal sediment waves deposited over the last glacial-interglacial cycle. Deposition of these mainly fine-grained deposits was controlled by a combination of downslope and alongslope transport mechanisms that interacted with the positive topography created by debrite lobes on the lower fan. The core penetrates a small field of sediment waves (wavelength approx. 1 km, height 3–6 m), which onlap a debrite lobe dated to the last glacial maximum. The sedimentary sequence shows: (1) silty-muddy contourites deposited during the mid-Devensian (Marine Isotope Stage 3), (2) glacimarine hemipelagites and sandy turbidites deposited between 26 and 18 C14 ka BP, followed by a short phase of erosion and redeposition by bottom currents, and (3) glacimarine hemipelagites and silty-muddy contourites representing the glacial to Holocene transition. On the distal fan edge, a drift sequence with upslope-migrating sediment waves (wavelengths approx. 3 km, height 15-30 m) onlaps the tongue of a previous slide event (pre-Devensian?). These bedforms were probably generated by decelerating, low-density glacigenic turbidity currents, but pirated by contour-following bottom currents on the distal part of the drift.
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Deep-Water Contourite Systems: Modern Drifts and Ancient Series, Seismic and Sedimentary Characteristics
Countourites are a widespread but poorly known group of sediments linked to the action of powerful bottom currents in deep water. Although we know they are especially common along continental margins and through oceanic gateways, they have been surrounded by contoversy since they were first recognized in the early 1960s. Where correctly recognized and decoded they can provide one of the keys to our better understanding of bottom water circulation and of the ocean–climate link. They are part of the spectrum of deposits that confronts the oil industry as exploration moves into progressively greater water depths.
This memoir is an important outcome of the International Geological Correlation Project 432 on Bottom Currents, Contourites and Palaeocirculation. It includes 30 papers involving over 75 key scientists from around the world. Following an introductory state–of–the–art paper by the editors, there are 25 separate case studies on modern drifts and four on ancient contourite series. Each contribution highlights the specific geological and oceanographic setting, bathymetry, physiographic and stratigraphic context, seismic attributes and sedimentary characteristics of that drift. Case studies range from some of the well-documented North Atlantic drifts to those much less known from the Mediterrenean, from important syntheses of the Gulf of Cadiz and Vema Channel Gateway, to completely new data on South Atlantic, Pacific and Antartic margin systems. The four papers on ancient series from Japan, China and Cyprus serve to emphasise the complex nature and subtle characteristics of contourites, which make their identification a scientific challenge.
This volume is dedicated to the memory of Charlie Hollister (1936–1999), one of the founding fathers and pioneers of countourite research.