Inclusion of substrate blocks within a mass transport deposit: A case study from Cerro Bola, Argentina

Matheus S. Sobiesiak, Ben Kneller, G. Ian Alsop, Juan Pablo Milana

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

16 Citations (Scopus)


The preservation of large, relatively undeformed blocks is a characteristic feature of mass transport deposits (MTD). We examine a well-exposed succession at Cerro Bola in La Rioja Province, western Argentina, which comprises mid to late Carboniferous fluvio-deltaic sediments, turbidites and MTD’s. The main MTD, which is up to 180 m thick and crops out over 8 km, is characterized by allochthonous sandstone blocks that range in size from metres to 100s of metres in length, and are up to tens of metres in thickness. Blocks are preserved throughout the entire MTD, but are typically larger and much more abundant towards its base where they comprise up to ~30 % of the unit, and become progressively smaller and less frequent upward. Blocks were eroded from the underlying unlithified deltaic sands, and incorporated into the MTD during its transport and emplacement, resulting in local gouges and grooves in the substrate along the basal contact of the MTD. Sandstone blocks are interpreted to have undergone progressive abrasion and fragmentation as they rose through the MTD, thereby creating smaller blocks in the upper parts of the unit. We suggest that buoyancy-driven rise combined with the synchronous fragmentation of sandstone blocks that are entrained within a finer matrix, provides a mechanism for the observed distribution of blocks during overall downslope transport of the MTD.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSubmarine Mass Movements and Their Consequences
Subtitle of host publication7th International Symposium
EditorsGeoffroy Lamarche, Joshu Mountjoy, Suzanne Bull, Tom Hubble, Sebastian Krastel, Emily Lane, Aaron Micallef, Lorena Moscardelli, Christof Mueller, Ingo Pecher, Susanne Woelz
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9783319209791
ISBN (Print)9783319209784
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

Name Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISSN (Print)1878-9897
ISSN (Electronic)1878-9897


  • mass-transport deposit
  • block buoyancy
  • sandstone blocks
  • carboniferous
  • Argentina


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