Seismic expressions of deep-shelf depositional and erosional morphologies, Miocene Utsira formation, North Sea Basin

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The Middle–Late Miocene Utsira Formation of the North Sea Basin contains a fully preserved, regional marine sand deposit that records a stable paleogeographic setting of sand transport and accumulation within a deep, epeiric seaway which persisted for >8 Ma. The sediment dispersal system was defined by (1) input through a marginal prograding strandplain platform, coasthypen;tohypen;basin bypass, transport along a narrow strait, and accumulation in strait-mouth shoal complexes within a shelf sea; lpar;2rpar; a high-energy marine regime; (3) very low time-averaged rates of sediment supply and accumulation; and (4) consequent high sediment reworking ratio. Sand distribution and stratal architectures reflect regional along-strike sediment transport and local to sub-regional landward sediment transport. Plume-shaped, south-building, submarine sand shoals that formed along the recurved arc of the strandplain margin nourished the shoal system. Very low-angle sigmoid clinoforms and down-stepping, aggradational top sets are distinctive architectures of these strike-fed sand bodies. The combination of strong marine currents and slow but long-lived sand supply from the Shetland strandplain created regional, sandy shelf shoal depositional systems that individually covered 3,500 to 6,000 km2 of the basin floor. Defining attributes of the shelf shoal systems include their location within the basin axis, abundance of autochthonous sediment, and sandy marine facies composition. Diagnostic depositional architectures include the along-strike-dipping sigmoidal clinoforms, poly-directional low-angle accretionary bedding at both regional and local scales, and mounded depositional topography. Erosional features include regional hummocky, low-relief shelf deflation surfaces, broad, elongate scours and sub-circular scour pits.

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