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Abstract

The Columbia Channel is a turbiditic channel elongated W-E on the rise of the south Brazilian basin (4200 to 5000 m water depth). The whole area is swept by the northward flowing Antarctic Bottom Water. As a consequence, depositional processes have built a fan drift system. This system displays a levee along the northern flank of the channel while no levee occurs on its southern flank due to the Coriolis effect. The levee (400 km in length and 100 to 200 km in width) is bounded to the north by the Vitoria-Trindade Seamounts. It shows, first, a W-E trend parallel to the channel axis and predominantly turbiditic pattern, and then a S-N trend parallel to the rise contours with a predominant contouritic pattern. Its thickness is up to 1000 m. The distribution of sedimentary processes and associated deposits were investigated on the basis of water gun seismic and 3.5 kHz echosounding profiles, and core lithology. On the lower S-N part of the levee, the deposits consist of muddy contourites. On the shallowest part, turbidites that originate from the upper continental margin in the channel and on the southern part of the levee close to the channel, and from the Vitoria-Trindade Seamounts on the northern part of the levee, are interbedded with contouritic muds, and top-truncated silty turbidites. Areas subjected to turbidity current processes show chaotic to well-stratified, high amplitude reflections, in the subsurface, and more or less prolonged echofacies with or without sub-bottom reflectors, at the seabed. Areas subjected to contour currents show, in the subsurface, transparent seismofacies with some discontinuous low amplitude wavy reflections, and, in the surficial deposits, predominant wavy echofacies with sub-bottom relectors, frequently associated with tangential hyperbolae.

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