Volume balance of a submarine landslide in the Esp??rito Santo Basin, offshore Brazil: Quantifying seafloor erosion, sediment accumulation and depletion

  • Alves T
  • Cartwright J
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Degrees of seafloor erosion, sediment accumulation and depletion are quantified using a 3D seismic volume of a small submarine landslide offshore Brazil. In the study area, the upper boundaries of large remnant blocks - kept in situ during the main instability event - and the interpreted non-failed margins of the landslide comprise a reliable estimate for the position of the seafloor at the time the submarine landslide was generated. Remnant blocks of strata show little internal deformation, particularly at their base, and were kept upright during a principal instability event triggered in response to regional halokinesis and associated overburden faulting. They are laterally bounded by a mixed succession of mass-wasted chaotic strata, rafted blocks and post-slide sub-horizontal units. Despite the thin accumulation of failed strata now visible, the interpreted data indicate that submarine landslides of small areal dimensions can erode substantial volumes of seafloor sediment. Consequently, the more than 300 m of eroded seafloor strata offshore Brazil is of a similar scale to the largest failures recorded on continental margins (e.g. Storegga Slide; Amazon Fan complex; Cape Fear slide). The scale relationships presented in this paper indicate that the magnitude of seafloor erosion experienced during instability events may not be recorded by distal mass-wasted strata, which can be demonstrably thinner than the original volume of failed sediment. Thus, we conclude that the relative expression of accumulated slide strata is not directly related to the original volume of failed material. In addition, small-scale landslides can be responsible for the erosion of thick seafloor deposits, a factor that can potentially cause significant losses of seal capacity in overburden successions due to the sudden release of confining pressures in a vertical direction. ?? 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • continental margin
  • remnant blocks
  • sediment depletion
  • submarine slides

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