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Influence of alongslope processes on modern turbidite systems and canyons in the Alboran Sea (southwestern Mediterranean)

Abstract : This is an interdisciplinary study that combines morphoseismics, sedimentology and numerical modelling to elucidate at different scales of resolution the influence of alongslope processes on the turbidite systems (TSs) and canyons in the Alboran Sea (southwestern Mediterranean). Nine TSs are mapped in the Spanish margin (La Linea, Guadiaro, Baños, Torrenueva, Fuengirola, Salobreña, Sacratif, Calahonda and Almeria) and two in the Alboran Ridge (Piedra Escuela and Al-Borani). In the Moroccan margin, there are only two canyons (Ceuta and Nekor). Distinctive morphoseismic and sedimentological signatures from TSs and canyons have enabled three regional models of alongslope influence to be distinguished: a) Alongslope processes are dominant. This scenario characterizes the canyons of the Moroccan margin. The diagnostic signature is the lack of leveed channels and lobes at the Ceuta and Nekor Canyon mouths. b) Different degrees of interplay exist between alongslope and downslope processes. This scenario occurs in the TSs of the western Spanish margin. Here, the alongslope influence on TSs (La Linea, Guadiaro, Baños, Torrenueva and Fuengirola) is evidenced by the lack of overbank deposits in the La Linea and Guadiaro Canyons and an alongslope trend in the morpho-architecture of the channelized lobes and in the textural distribution of canyon/channel deposits (mass-flow deposits and turbidites). Both signatures indicate sandier TSs as well as Bouma turbidite sequences lacking the finest levels towards the Strait of Gibraltar. Local intercalations of contourites are also present in the Guadiaro lobe deposits. c) Downslope processes are dominant. This scenario characterizes the TSs of the eastern and central Spanish margin and Alboran Ridge. There, TSs seem to be controlled solely by the characteristics of the downslope gravity flows that transport sediment. The hydrodynamic and sediment dispersion models confirm that the main oceanographic factors governing the variable alongslope influence in TSs and canyons are the following: a vigorous WMDW flow along the Moroccan margin and the energetic Atlantic Jet, western Atlantic anticyclonic gyre and general acceleration of the Mediterranean waters towards the Strait of Gibraltar, along the western Spanish margin. This study demonstrates the pivotal role that alongslope processes can play in the onset and formation of TSs and canyons at continental margins.
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Submitted on : Thursday, March 3, 2022 - 1:04:57 PM
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Gemma Ercilla, Carmen Juan, Raul Periáñez, Belén Alonso, Jose María Abril, et al.. Influence of alongslope processes on modern turbidite systems and canyons in the Alboran Sea (southwestern Mediterranean). Deep-Sea Research Part I, 2019, 144, pp.1-16. ⟨10.1016/j.dsr.2018.12.002⟩. ⟨insu-03595803⟩



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