Submarine Dissolution During the Late-Miocene Carbonate Crash and Subsequent Mega-Pockmark Formation on the Cocos Ridge

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Jared Kluesner1, Eli A Silver1, Nathan L Bangs2 and Kirk D McIntosh3, (1)University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, United States, (2)Univ Texas, Austin, TX, United States, (3)Univ of Tx-Austin-Geosciences, Austin, TX, United States
A large field (245km2) seabed mega-pockmarks (~1 km to 4 km in diameter) was recently imaged on the western edge of the Cocos Ridge near the Middle American Trench. The pockmarks are part of a vast mega-pockmark field (~10x150 km) and were imaged using high-resolution multibeam bathymetry and backscatter and 3D seismic reflection data. On the seafloor, multiple pockmarks exhibit a two-tiered geomorphology, some of which contain small high-backscatter mounds, possibly indicating recent seafloor seepage. 3D seismic data reveal that the two-tiered morphology is caused by collapse structures at depth with large pockmarks above the walls of the former. Observed collapse structures are characterized by steep walls that truncate surrounding strata, apparent normal “ring” faults, chaotic internal reflections interpreted as infill, and circular morphologies. Younger pockmarks located above the walls of the collapse structures are larger in diameter, have gently dipping walls that do not truncate surrounding strata, and typically show elliptical morphologies. Physical properties results at IODP Site U1414 that intersects the 3D seismic volume suggest that observed reverse polarity lens-shaped zones, which are truncated by the deeper collapse structures, represent anomalous regions of high porosity and low density. In addition, a rapid drop in Ca concentrations observed within this interval at Site U1414 suggests a relationship with possible carbonate dissolution. Correlation of the collapse structures stratigraphic timing with nanno-fossil data at Site U1414 suggests formation occurred ~8-10 Ma, approximately during the Late Miocene eastern Pacific carbonate crash. Based on 3D seismic analysis and recent drilling results, we propose a two-stage formation process that consists of initial collapse caused by carbonate dissolution during the late Miocene, followed by sustained fluid-flow along the walls of established collapse features, resulting in pockmark formation. This process resulted in a two-tiered seafloor geomorphology along the western flank of the Cocos Ridge, similar to that observed on the Carnegie Ridge (see Michaud et al., Mar. Geol., 216:205-219).