The contourite paradigm was conceived a few decades ago, yet there remains a need to establish a sound connection between contourite deposits, basin evolution and oceanographic processes. Significant recent advances have been enabled by various factors, including the establishment of two IGCP projects and the realisation of several IODP expeditions. Contourites were first described in the Northern and Southern Atlantic Ocean, and since then, have been discovered in every major ocean basin and even in lakes. The 120 major contourite areas presently known are associated to myriad oceanographic processes in surface, intermediate and deep-water masses. The increasing recognition of these deposits is influencing palaeoclimatology & palaeoceanography, slope-stability/geological hazard assessment, and hydrocarbon exploration. Nevertheless, there is a pressing need for a better understanding of the sedimentological and oceanographic processes governing contourites, which involve dense bottom currents, tides, eddies, deep-sea storms, internal waves and tsunamis. Furthermore, in light of the latest knowledge on oceanographic processes and other governing factors (e.g. sediment supply and sea-level), existing facies models must now be revised. Persistent oceanographic processes significantly affect the seafloor, resulting in large-scale depositional and erosional features. Various classifications have been proposed to subdivide a continuous spectrum of partly overlapping features. Although much progress has been made in the large-scale, geophysically based recognition of these deposits, there remains a lack of unambiguous and commonly accepted diagnostic criteria for deciphering the small-scaled contourite fades and for distinguishing them from turbidite ones. Similarly, the study of sandy deposits generated or affected by bottom currents, which is still in its infancy, offers great research potential: these deposits might prove invaluable as future reservoir targets. Expectations for the forthcoming analysis of data from the IODP Expedition 339 are high, as this work promises to tackle much of the aforementioned lack of knowledge. In the near future, geologists, oceanographers and benthic biologists will have to work in concert to achieve synergy in contourite research to demonstrate the importance of bottom currents in continental margin sedimentation and evolution. (C) 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-SA license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/).

Contourites and associated sediments controlled by deep-water circulation processes: State-of-the-art and future considerations

Rebesco M;
2014

Abstract

The contourite paradigm was conceived a few decades ago, yet there remains a need to establish a sound connection between contourite deposits, basin evolution and oceanographic processes. Significant recent advances have been enabled by various factors, including the establishment of two IGCP projects and the realisation of several IODP expeditions. Contourites were first described in the Northern and Southern Atlantic Ocean, and since then, have been discovered in every major ocean basin and even in lakes. The 120 major contourite areas presently known are associated to myriad oceanographic processes in surface, intermediate and deep-water masses. The increasing recognition of these deposits is influencing palaeoclimatology & palaeoceanography, slope-stability/geological hazard assessment, and hydrocarbon exploration. Nevertheless, there is a pressing need for a better understanding of the sedimentological and oceanographic processes governing contourites, which involve dense bottom currents, tides, eddies, deep-sea storms, internal waves and tsunamis. Furthermore, in light of the latest knowledge on oceanographic processes and other governing factors (e.g. sediment supply and sea-level), existing facies models must now be revised. Persistent oceanographic processes significantly affect the seafloor, resulting in large-scale depositional and erosional features. Various classifications have been proposed to subdivide a continuous spectrum of partly overlapping features. Although much progress has been made in the large-scale, geophysically based recognition of these deposits, there remains a lack of unambiguous and commonly accepted diagnostic criteria for deciphering the small-scaled contourite fades and for distinguishing them from turbidite ones. Similarly, the study of sandy deposits generated or affected by bottom currents, which is still in its infancy, offers great research potential: these deposits might prove invaluable as future reservoir targets. Expectations for the forthcoming analysis of data from the IODP Expedition 339 are high, as this work promises to tackle much of the aforementioned lack of knowledge. In the near future, geologists, oceanographers and benthic biologists will have to work in concert to achieve synergy in contourite research to demonstrate the importance of bottom currents in continental margin sedimentation and evolution. (C) 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-SA license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/).
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.14083/2491
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