The products of bottom current circulation around the Iberian continental margin are characterised by large erosional and depositional features formed under a variety of geological and oceanographic contexts. The Iberian margins are influenced by several water masses that mainly interact along the upper and middle continental slopes, as well as along the lower slope with the abyssal plains being influenced to a lesser extent. The main depositional features occur along the Ceuta Contourite Depositional System (CDS) within the SW Alboran Sea, in the Gulf of Cadiz (the most studied so far), the western margins of the Portugal/Galician margin, the Ortegal Spur and the Le Danois Bank or “Cachucho”. Moreover, erosional contourite features have also been recently indentified, most notably terraces, abraded surfaces, channels, furrows and moats. The majority of these features are formed under the influence of the Mediterranean water masses, especially by the interaction of the Mediterranean Outflow Water (MOW) with the seafloor. The MOW is characterized as relatively warm (13°C) and with a high salinity (~ 36.5), giving it a high density relative to the surrounding water masses, hence constituting an important contribution to the global thermohaline circulation, making it one of the most studied water masses surrounding Iberia. The development of both depositional and erosional contourite features does not only depend on the bottom-current velocity but also on several other important controlling factors, including: 1) local margin morphology affected by recent tectonic activity; 2) multiple sources of sediment supply; 3) water-mass interphases interacting with the seafloor; and 4) glacioeustatic changes, especially during the Quaternary, when the increasing influence of the bottom current has been observed during the cold stages. The main objective of this special volume contribution is to provide a review and description of the regional along-slope processes and their sedimentary impact around the Iberian margin. Despite the numerous examples of bottom current processes recorded, there remains a number of challenges to understanding CDSs around the Iberian margin including: 1) evidencing their important scientific implications (stratigraphy, sedimentology, palaeoceanography and palaeoclimatology); assessing their geological hazard and their economic potential (for mineral and energy resources); and 3) using them to create conceptual models for CDS formation. There is a lack of complete knowledge about the different oceanographic processes that may drive bottom currents, and there is also the need to document the great variety of contourite features (processes and products) and facies models, along with their evolution over time and space. Therefore advances, both in new technologies and integrated studies (Geology, Physical Oceanography and Benthic/planktonic Biology), are anticipated.
|Number of pages||38|
|Journal||Boletín Geológico y Minero |
|Publication status||Published - 1 Apr 2015|
- Iberian continental margin
- Mediterranean Outflow Water,
- Sedimentary processes,
- Water-mass circulation