Gravitational collapse can occur on many scales on submarine slopes. As hydrocarbon exploration has stepped into increasingly deeper water geologists have realized that entire sedimentary prisms on continental margins are deformed by structures that do not penetrate into the underlying crust. In this respect, large-scale gravitational deformation systems at continental margins bear many similarities to deformation in orogenic thrust belts. Also like thrust belts, they exhibit an overall wedge-shaped geometry, suggesting that critical taper theory exerts a first-order control over their formation, and their development is controlled partly by complex feedbacks between the evolving deformation system and the synkinematic (‘syntectonic')...

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