Mass Transport Processes and Deposits, and Their role in Continental Margin Development
Jackson School of Geosciences Bureau of Economic Geology,
Austin Texas USA
The goal of my research is to identify and document recognition criteria for MTCs and their elements, to understand the factors that are involved in MTC initiation, duration, and termination, to assess the role they play in reservoir development, destruction and trap development, and to evaluate their potential anthropogenic implications. The study area, the eastern continental margin of Trinidad, is situated along the tectonically active oblique converging southeastern boundary of the Caribbean and South American plates and proximal to the Orinoco Delta. Factors that have contributed to gravitational instabilities in the shelf edge include high sedimentation rates, high frequency sea-level fluctuations, frequent earthquakes and the abundance of gas-hydrates. This volatile mix of factors favor the formation of episodic gravity induced deposits that have affected thousands of square kilometers of the deep marine environment. Nearly 10,000 square kilometers of three-dimensional seismic data covering the continental margin of the study area reveal multiple cycles of mass transport occurrence. Mapping of the shallowest units in the area has shown that individual gravity induced deposits can reach up to 250 meters in thickness and occur over 100's of kilometer square areas. Ongoing work will include (1) mapping and assessing older MTCs along the study margin, and (2) the systematic collection of geomorphological parameters such as length, thickness and volume of the deposits, from different MTCs around the world in order to understand issues associated to their scale and flow efficiency.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90060©2006 AAPG Foundation Grants-in-Aid