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Morphometric Methodology for Characterizing Submarine Drainage Networks: East Scotian Canyon Systems, Offshore Nova Scotia


Modern, clastic deepwater systems in low latitudes (e.g. Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic margins) have been extensively studied because of their hydrocarbon potential (e.g. Posamentier and Walker, 2003), but much less is known about deepwater environments that were directly influenced by Pleistocene glaciation (Armitage et al, 2010). This project will focus on the recent evolution of a submarine canyon along the East Scotian Slope, offshore Nova Scotia. By reconstructing mid-to-late Pleistocene episodes of cutting and filling along the canyon axis, we will obtain a better understanding of how proglacial turbidity currents and background sedimentation, along with submarine mass wasting, produced the stratigraphy observed today. The work proposed here has the potential to expand existing models for deepwater processes and resulting stratigraphic architecture to high-latitude margins influenced by proglacial sedimentary processes. Results will also build on a growing body of research that addresses the Late Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Canadian continental margin (Piper, 2005). To relate present-day bathymetry to subsurface architecture, I will interpret an industry-acquired marine 3D seismic volume that images 250 km2 of the lower Scotian Slope along with a regional bathymetric map provided by the Geological Survey of Canada that covers much of the Scotian Shelf and Slope. Interpretation of the seismic data will be carried out using an industry-grade software program (Kingdom) while the bathymetric data will be analyzed in ArcGIS. Together, these datasets will allow me to construct bathymetric profiles (e.g. canyon cross-sections and long profiles), map canyon-fill architecture (e.g. erosional surfaces, accretion surfaces, slump and slide deposits), and identify the bathymetric and subsurface signature of slope failure along canyon walls.