Seismic expression of shallow- to deep-water contourites along the south-eastern Brazilian margin


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Abstract

The Neogene-to-Quaternary sediment section along the south-eastern Brazilian margin was deeply influenced by bottom currents acting from the upper slope down to the continental rise in water depths ranging from 100 m to > 3,500 m. Different depositional styles are observed as a resultant of the interaction between bottom currents, seafloor topography, available grain size and time span involved in the process. Their importance in the sedimentary record varies in accordance with the intensity of that interaction. Deposits associated to bottom currents are both coarse-grained and fine-grained and are distributed along all margins. The identification of coarse-grained deposits in deep-water is critical for the petroleum industry, thus characterising sandy contourites as relevant for the understanding of reservoir analogues. Slope plastered sand sheets occur in the upper slope setting. They are strike-fed, along slope-elongated and internally characterised by high amplitude seismic reflections usually developing reflection free blankets above erosional terraces due to their small thickness (in average less than 30 m thick). Middle and lower slope contourites are mostly constituted of fine-grained plastered and separated drifts, where a general upslope migration trend and an erosional basal surface are observed. The seafloor topography from the foot of the slope towards the continental rise is controlled by salt walls and diapirs which influence the acceleration of the currents and the development of contourite drifts. Paleoceanographic reconstructions supported by seismic evidence indicate that the major currents sculpting the seafloor are southerly originated and their action can overcome the importance of gravity currents where continental supply is reduced.

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