Stratigraphic Controls on a Salt-Withdrawal Intraslope Minibasin, North-Central Green Canyon, Gulf of Mexico: Implications for Misinterpreting Sea Level Change

Madof, Andrew S.; Christie-Blick, Nicholas; Anders, Mark H.

Three-dimensional seismic data from the Fuji basin, a salt-controlled intraslope minibasin in north-central Green Canyon, Gulf of Mexico, reveal complex interactions between gravity- and suspension-driven sedimentation. Seismic volumes for late Pleistocene (sim470 ka) to Holocene fill within the Fuji basin consist of approximately 45% mass transport complexes (MTCs), 5% channelized sandy turbidites, and 50% hemipelagites and muddy turbidites. At least ten MTCs within the Fuji basin flowed radially toward its depocenter, either from basin flanks (i.e., intrabasinal) or as a result of larger-scale salt motion (i.e., extrabasinal). Sediment transport directions are inferred on the basis of elongate basal incisions and smaller-scale scours, head scarps, fold orientation within the complexes, and stratigraphic thinning trends at downdip margins. An amalgamated set of three channelized sandy turbidite complexes less than 350 m (1148 ft) thick and 3 km (1.8 mi) across represents the main sand delivery pathway into the Fuji basin. These deposits are thought to be due to shelf bypass, and possibly, to proximity to the Pleistocene shoreline. Hemipelagites and muddy turbidites are homogeneous, and their thickness is relatively consistent at basin scale. This facies represents background sedimentation.
A process-driven model has been developed involving halokinetic autocyclicity as the primary control on sedimentation in the Fuji basin. Passive salt motion accounts better for both the directions of sediment transport and the frequency of late Pleistocene–Holocene MTCs than currently popular eustatic and steady-state bathymetric models. The conclusion is significant in casting doubt on the generally assumed importance of eustasy in controlling off-shelf lowstand sedimentation and in implying marked variations in stratigraphic details at length scales of less than 10 km (6.2 mi).

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