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Contourite drifts on distal margins as indicators of established lithospheric breakup

Soares, Duarte Miguel, Alves, Tiago Marcos and Terrinha, Pedro 2014. Contourite drifts on distal margins as indicators of established lithospheric breakup. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 401 , pp. 116-131. 10.1016/j.epsl.2014.06.001

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Abstract

The Albian–Cenomanian breakup sequence (BS) offshore Northwest Iberia is mapped, described and characterised for the first time in terms of its seismic and depositional facies. The interpreted dataset comprises a large grid of regional (2D) seismic-reflection profiles, complemented by Industry and ODP/DSDP borehole data. Within the BS are observed distinct seismic facies that reflect the presence of: (a) black shales and fine-grained turbidites, (b) mass-transport deposits (MTDs) and coarse-grained turbidites, and (c) contourite drifts. Borehole data show that these depositional systems developed as mixed carbonate–siliciclastic sediments proximally, and as organic-carbon-rich mudstones (black shales) distally on the Northwest Iberia margin. MTDs and turbidites tend to occur on the continental slope, frequently in association with large-scale olistostromes. Distally, these change into interbedded fine-grained turbidites and black shales showing widespread evidence of deep-water current activity towards the top of the BS. Current activity is expressed by intra-BS erosional surfaces and sediment drifts. The results in this paper are important as they demonstrate that contourite drifts are ubiquitous features in the study area after Aptian–Albian lithospheric breakup. Therefore, we interpret the recognition of contourite drifts in Northwest Iberia as having significant palaeogeographic implications. Contourite drifts materialise the onset of important deep-water circulation marking the establishment of oceanic gateways between two fully separated continental margins. As a corollary, we postulate the generation of deep-water geostrophic currents to have had significant impact on North Atlantic climate and ocean circulation during the Albian–Cenomanian, with the record of such impacts being preserved in the contourite drifts analysed in this work.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Ocean Sciences
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GC Oceanography
Q Science > QE Geology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0012-821X
Date of Acceptance: 2 June 2014
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2019 09:25
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/59102

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