The Ogooue Fan (offshore Gabon): a modern example of deep-sea fan on a complex slope profile

Type Article
Date 2019-06
Language English
Author(s) Mignard Salomé1, Mulder Thierry1, Martinez Philippe1, Garlan Thierry2
Affiliation(s) 1 : UMR CNRS 5805 EPOC, University of Bordeaux, 33615 Pessac, France
2 : SHOM, Service hydrographique et océanographique de la marine, 29228 Brest, France
Source Solid Earth (1869-9510) (Copernicus GmbH), 2019-06 , Vol. 10 , N. 3 , P. 851-869
DOI 10.5194/se-10-851-2019
WOS© Times Cited 4

The effects of changes in slope gradient on deposition processes and architecture have been investigated in different deep-sea systems both in modern and ancient environments. However, the impact of subtle gradient changes (< 0.3∘) on sedimentary processes along deep-sea fans still needs to be clarified. The Ogooue Fan, located in the northeastern part of the Gulf of Guinea, extends over more than 550 km westwards of the Gabonese shelf and passes through the Cameroon volcanic line. Here, we present the first study of acoustic data (multibeam echosounder and 3.5 kHz, very high-resolution seismic data) and piston cores covering the deep-sea part of this West African system. This study documents the architecture and sedimentary facies distribution along the fan. Detailed mapping of near-seafloor seismic-reflection data reveals the influence of subtle slope gradient changes (< 0.2∘) along the fan morphology. The overall system corresponds to a well-developed deep-sea fan, fed by the Ogooue River sedimentary load, with tributary canyons, distributary channel–levee complexes and lobe elements. However, variations in the slope gradient due to inherited salt-related structures and the presence of several seamounts, including volcanic islands, result in a topographically complex slope profile including several ramps and steps. In particular, turbidity currents derived from the Gabonese shelf deposit cross several interconnected intra-slope basins located on the low gradient segments of the margin (< 0.3∘). On a higher gradient segment of the slope (0.6∘), a large mid-system valley developed connecting an intermediate sedimentary basin to the more distal lobe area. Distribution and thickness of turbidite sands is highly variable along the system. However, turbidite sands are preferentially deposited on the floor of the channel and the most proximal depositional areas. Core description indicates that the upper parts of the turbidity flows, mainly composed of fine-grained sediments, are found in the most distal depocenters.

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