Large-scale fine-grained sediment waves over the Gulf of Valencia continental slope (northwestern Mediterranean Sea)

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 5:45 PM
Marta Ribo1, Pere Puig1, Araceli Muñoz2, Claudio Lo Iacono1,3, David Van Rooij4, Albert Palanques1, Juan Acosta5, Jorge Guillén1 and Maria Gómez-Ballesteros5, (1)ICM-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain, (2)Tragsatec S.A., Madrid, Spain, (3)National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Marine Geoscience, Southampton, United Kingdom, (4)Ghent University, Geology & Soil Science, Ghent, Belgium, (5)Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Madrid, Spain
Recently acquired swath bathymetry on the Gulf of Valencia continental margin (NW Mediterranean Sea) allowed characterizing a large-scale sediment wave field which develops on the continental slope, from 250 m in depth to the continental rise, found at 850 m in depth. Geometric parameters as wavelength, wave height, asymmetry index, and steepness were obtained from the analysis of the bathymetric models. The internal structure of the sediment waves was determined using parametric (TOPAS), single-channel (Sparker) and multi-channel (Airgun) seismic reflection profiles. Sediment wavelengths range between 500 and 1000 m, and maximum wave heights of up to 50 m were observed on the upper-slope, decreasing downslope to just 2 m high on the continental rise. These depositional sediment waves over the continental slope are preferentially developed on the foreset region of the prograding margin clinoform, and are preserved in the sediment record since the Early/Lower Pliocene. Contemporary hydrodynamic data have determined the presence of strong near-inertial internal waves interacting with the continental slope, playing an important role in the redistribution of near-bottom suspended particles. Such hydrodynamic process can contribute to the sediment transport and deposition and to the formation of the sediment waves over the Gulf of Valencia continental slope. These morphological features were previously interpreted as a result of gravitational slope failures. However, the use of adequate seafloor mapping techniques, together with oceanographic and sedimentary dynamics measurements, allowed changing the previous interpretation and providing new insights on the seafloor morphology over this part of the NW Mediterranean continental margin.