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Seismic features diagnostic of contourite drifts
Faugeres, J.-C.; Stow, D.A.V.; Imbert, P.; Viana, A.R. (1999). Seismic features diagnostic of contourite drifts. Mar. Geol. 162(1): 1-38.
In: Marine Geology. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISSN 0025-3227; e-ISSN 1872-6151, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors | Datasets 

Author keywords
    contourite drift; turbidite; seismic pattern; Cenozoic; reservoir

Authors  Top | Datasets 
  • Faugeres, J.-C.
  • Stow, D.A.V.
  • Imbert, P.
  • Viana, A.R.

    The sedimentary construction of oceanic margins is most often carried out by the combined action of gravitational processes and processes related to bottom (contour) currents. One of the major difficulties encountered in the interpretation of seismic profiles crossing such margins is the differentiation of these two types of deposit, especially where they display very complicated imbricated geometries. The aim of this paper, therefore, is to derive criteria for the recognition of contourite vs. turbidite deposits, based on the analysis of many seismic profiles from both published and unpublished sources. The following features are the most diagnostic for the recognition of contourite drifts. At the scale of the basin, four different drift types can be distinguished according to the morphostructural context, their general morphology and the hydrodynamic conditions. These are: contourite-sheeted drifts (including abyssal sheets and slope-plastered sheets), elongate-mounded drifts (detached and separated types), channel-related drifts (including lateral and axial patch drifts and downstream contourite fans), and confined drifts trapped in small, tectonically active basins. At the scale of the drift, three features provide the best diagnostic criteria for recognising contourite deposits on seismic profiles: major discontinuities that can be traced across the whole drift and represent time lines corresponding to hydrological events, lenticular, convex-upward depositional units with a variable geometry, and a specific style of progradation–aggradation of these units that is influenced by interaction of the bottom current with Coriolis force and with the morphology. At the scale of depositional units, the seismofacies show a wide variety of reflector characteristics, many of which are very similar to those observed in turbidite series. Distinction between sediment wave seismofacies deposited by turbidity currents and bottom currents still remains ambiguous.

Datasets (2)
  • Global contourite distribution database, version 2, more
  • Global contourite distribution database, version 3, more

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