Images of the seabed in the Faroe-Shetland Channel from commercial 3D seismic data

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A large number of 3D deep seismic surveys in the Faroe-Shetland Channel gives continuous coverage over most of the region. These surveys were designed primarily to image depths in excess of 4 km, use low frequency sources and are recorded at low temporal sample rates. However, commercial 3D data can generate highly detailed images of the seabed due to the high spatial sample rate, typically 12.5 m. This is particularly true in waters below 200 m. Despite geophysical artefacts, the images reveal that there are a number of sedimentary processes at work adjacent to and within this channel. On the West Shetland Shelf, iceberg scouring and moraines reflect the impact of glaciation. On the West Shetland slope there is clear evidence for down-slope processes, such as debris flows, linear erosion channels, basal fans and (one case) slope failure. Along-slope processes are also active as indicated by the presence of sediment waves and contourite mounds. On the floor of the basin, polygonal cracking can be observed. The most spectacular feature appears to be the Judd Deeps, a system of cliffs approximately 200 m high and 40 km across. Traditionally, seabed investigation has been performed using high-resolution surveys. This study shows that deep exploration data can also provide useful images of the seafloor.

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