Instability and deformation in the sedimentary cover on the upper slope of the southern Aquitaine continental margin, north of the Capbreton canyon (Bay of Biscay)
Eliane Gonthier, Pierre Cirac, Jean-Claude Faugeres, Michel Cremer, Jean-François Bourillet and Mathieu Gaudina

Acoustic and core data have recently been collected on the shelf break and the upper part of the slope of the south Aquitaine continental margin. They reveal the major role played by mass-flow gravity processes in deposit erosion and redistribution, modelling of the sea-bed, and transfer of sediment toward the deep-sea. The study region is bounded in the south by the Capbreton canyon. The northern area, which shows a smooth morphology, is characterised by small-scale deformations due to sediment creep or low-amplitude slide processes. The deformations are associated with mini listric-like faults that bound packets of sediments in which the deposit geometry is typical of constructional sediment waves. These sediment waves result from the interaction of depositional and gravity deformation processes. In the southern area, closer to the canyon, wave-like structures are still present but mostly of smaller size. They only result from gravity deformation processes without any evidence of constructional processes. In the vicinity of the Capbreton canyon, the shelf break and upper slope have a much more uneven morphology with sedimentary reliefs, escarpments and depressions directed toward the canyon thalweg. The depressions look like slide scars, and could be the result of regressive slides initiated at the top of the canyon flank. The age of the sliding event responsible for the formation of the depression observed today could be middle to upper Quaternary. Since their formation, these depressions act as conduits that channel the transfer of shelf sediment into the canyon, as demonstrated by the occurrence of a meandering channel on the sea-floor of one depression.

Keywords: Bay of Biscay, canyon, continental slope, sediment wave, mass flows, sediment transfer.
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 70S1 : 89-100 Back PDF
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