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Attributes and origins of ancient submarine slides and filled embayments: Examples from the Gulf Coast basin

January 1, 1993

Large submarine slides and associated shelf-margin embayments represent an intermediate member in the continuum of unstable shelf-margin features. On seismic profiles, they may resemble submarine canyons, but are different in their size, morphology, origin, and hydrocarbon exploration potential. Two large Neogene submarine slides, located in the northwestern Gulf Coast Basin, formed on the upper slope and flanks of prominent shelf-margin deltas. The basal detachment surface of each slide is a structural discontinuity that may be misinterpreted as an erosional unconformity and, therefore, misidentified as a stratigraphic boundary separating depositional sequences. Regional stratigraphic correlations indicate that both slides were initiated after the continental platform wa flooded. The condensed sections deposited during the rise in relative sea level contain the basal detachment surfaces. Beyond these observations, the relationships between the slides and sea level fluctuations are uncertain. The shelf-margin embayments created by the slides apparently were partly excavated during periods of lowered relative sea level and were filled during the subsequent relative sea level rise and highstand. Eventually the preslide morphology of the shelf margin was restored by coalesced prograding deltas.

Submarine slides exhibit landward-dipping, wavy, mounded, and chaotic seismic reflections that are manifestations of slump blocks and other mass transport material. Composition of these internally derived slide deposits depends on the composition of the preexisting shelf margin. Embayment fill above the slide consists mostly of externally derived mudstones and sandstones deposited by various disorganized slope processes, as well as more organized submarine channel-levee systems. Thickest slope sandstones, which are potential hydrocarbon reservoirs, commonly occur above the basal slide mudstones where seismic reflections change from chaotic patterns to overlying wavy or subhorizontal reflections.

Publication Year 1993
Title Attributes and origins of ancient submarine slides and filled embayments: Examples from the Gulf Coast basin
DOI 10.1306/BDFF8DE4-1718-11D7-8645000102C1865D
Authors Robert Morton
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin
Index ID 70135875
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse