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Abstract: The Engineering and Geological Constraints of the Intraslope Basins and Submarine Canyons of the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico

William R. Bryant, Joe Ponthier

It is well realized that future hydrocarbon discoveries on the upper and lower continental slope and rise off Texas and Louisiana necessitate innovative methods for the construction of platforms and pipelines in a very difficult engineering and complex geological environment. There are 105 intraslope basins and 5 major submarine canyons on the continental slope of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, many of which may be prime targets for hydrocarbon production. Examination of the physiographic, geophysical and geotechnical characteristics of the intraslope basins of Pigmy and Vaca basins and the Alaminos submarine canyon are used as examples to typify the various engineering and geological constraints that are most likely to be encountered on the continental slope and rise a d along the Sigsbee Escarpment in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. High-resolution bathymetry identifies such constraints as high-angle intraslope basin walls, walls that exceed 40 degrees are not uncommon. Sediment slumps and other instabilities, such as long-term sediment creep and other affects of halokenesis and contemporaneous faulting, are illustrated and evaluated from high-resolution geophysics. The small canyons and large gullies that dissect the parameter flanks of Alaminos Canyon, that may be the results of both recent and old turbidity currents and debris flows, are structures that require engineering consideration in the implementation of seafloor structures in, near or down slope of these features.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90955©1995 GCAGS 45th Annual Meeting and Gulf Section SEPM, Baton Rouge, Louisiana