Abstract

Mass-transport deposits (MTDs) are gravity-induced units that represent an important component of modern and ancient deep-water stratigraphic successions. MTDs have been widely documented in the literature, but a comprehensive compilation of quantitative morphometric parameters associated with their external architecture is still lacking. This work presents a morphometric database that contains 332 data points that document the length, area, volume, and thickness of MTDs from different geologic ages and a variety of continental margins around the world. The compilation contains data collected from interpretations done by the authors in eastern offshore Trinidad and the Gulf of Mexico as well as from data mining from the peer-reviewed literature. Preliminary results indicate that there is a good correlation between a series of parameters that include the area, length, and volume of MTDs. On the other hand, the correlation between thickness and volume seems to be harder to document mainly due to lateral variations in thickness that are typical within MTDs.

Data analysis suggests that previous qualitative classification of attached and detached MTDs can be validated by using a quantitative approach. This validation suggests that morphometric parameters associated with the architecture of MTDs can be used as a hint to link geologic setting, deposit geometry, and potential causal mechanisms. In addition, the defined morphometric relationships that were encountered between the different morphometric parameters (e.g., length and area) are useful to predict MTD dimensions in areas of the subsurface where data are limited and/or data quality is low. Likewise, these morphometric relationships can be used in outcrop studies where exposure of the MTD units is also limited.

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