F. Javier Hernández Molina


Congressi SGI-SIMP

Contourites and mixed depositional systems: a paradigm for deepwater sedimentary environments

Andalusian Earth Sciences Institute (IACT), Spanish Research Council (CSIC), Granada, Spain.
Along-slope bottom currents and a series of secondary oceanographic processes interact at different scales to form sedimentary deposits referred to as contourite and mixed (turbidite-contourite) depositional systems. Recent proliferation of both academic and industry research on deep-marine sedimentation documents significant advances in the understanding of these systems, but most non-specialists remain unaware of the features in question and how they form. Contourites and mixed depositional systems represent a major domain of continental margin and adjacent abyssal plain sedimentation in many of the world's oceans. They also appear in Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic stratigraphic sections. The growing interest in these systems has led to a refined but still evolving understanding of them. In addition to resolving their exact origins and evolutionary trajectories, research must also continue to ascertain their role in deep-sea ecosystems, geological hazards, environmental policy and economic development. Key gaps in understanding persist regarding their formation, their function in oceanographic systems and their evolution over time.
This Plenary Session summarises current conceptual paradigms for contourite and mixed depositional systems, lists global geographic examples of these systems and discusses their identification and interpretation in terms of diagnostic features as they appear in 2D and 3D seismic datasets and at sedimentary facies scale. It also considers the role that bottom currents play in shaping the seafloor and controlling the sedimentary stacking patterns of deepwater sedimentary successions. The growing interest in, and implications of, contourite and mixed depositional systems demonstrates that these systems represent significant deep-marine sedimentary environments. Combined efforts of researchers, industry partners and policy-makers can help advance understanding and responsible stewardship of deepwater depositional systems.
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