Seismic analyses of Cenozoic contourite drift development in the Northern Norwegian Sea


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Abstract

Four drift accumulations have been identified on the continental margin of northern Norway; the Lofoten Drift, the Vesterålen Drift, the Nyk Drift and the Sklinnadjupet Drift. Based on seismic character these drifts were found to belong to two main groups; (1) mounded, elongated, upslope accretion drifts (Lofoten Drift, Vesterålen Drift and Nyk Drift), and (2) infilling drifts (Sklinnadjupet Drift). The drifts are located on the continental slope. Mainly surface and intermediate water circulation, contrary to many North Atlantic and Antarctic drifts that are related to bottom water circulation, and sediment availability have controlled their growth. Sediments were derived both from winnowing of the shelf and upper slope and from ice sheets when present on the shelf. The main source area was the Vøring margin. This explains the high maximum average sedimentation rate of the nearby Nyk (1.2 m/ka) and Sklinnadjupet (0.5 m/ka) Drifts compared with the distal Lofoten (0.036 m/ka) and Vesterålen (0.060 m/ka) Drifts. The high sedimentation rate of the Nyk Drift, deposited during the period between the late Saalian and the late Weichselian is of the same order of magnitude as previously reported for glacigenic slope sediments deposited during glacial maximum periods only. The Sklinnadjupet Drift is infilling a paleo-slide scar. The development of the infilling drift was possible due to the available accommodation space, a slide scar acting as a sediment trap. Based on the formation of diapirs originating from the Sklinnadjupet Drift sediments we infer these sediments to have a muddy composition with relatively high water content and low density, more easily liquefied and mobilised compared with the glacigenic diamictons.

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