Insight into contrasting patterns of sedimentation from shelf edge to base-of-slope on the Mozambique-Zambezi margin (17°30′S-20°S) during the last 40 ka

Type Article
Date 2022-09
Language English
Author(s) Dennielou BernardORCID1, Guambe Inacio H.1, 2, Matsena Constantino P.1, 2, Mugabe João A.2, Achimo Mussa2, Jouet Gwenael1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Brest, CNRS, Ifremer, Geo-Ocean, F-29280 Plouzané, France
2 : Department of Geology, University of Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo, Mozambique
Source Marine Geology (0025-3227) (Elsevier BV), 2022-09 , Vol. 451 , P. 106886 (23p.)
DOI 10.1016/j.margeo.2022.106886
Keyword(s) Indian Ocean, Mozambique margin, Zambezi River, Continental slope, Contourite, Turbidite, Landslide, Bottom current, Sediment waves, Scours, Climate, Sea level

The pattern of sediment dispersal and the location of sediment depocentres on continental margins can be very complex in both space and time. We aim at investigating how significantly external and internal factors, such as river runoff, bottom current and sliding can deviate the sediment dispersal from a simplistic fully sea-level controlled spreading. In this study we examined the sedimentation at two transects across the Mozambique-Zambezi slope between 17°20S-20°S, where multibeam bathymetry, sub-bottom profiler data and sediment cores were acquired. The period investigated spans the last 40 cal ka BP with a focus on the contrast between the last glacial (lowstand) and the Holocene (highstand) periods. Results show contrasting patterns of sediment dispersal, deposition and preservation. Sea level fluctuation remains the main forcing and most of the sediment from the Zambezi River settled on the inner shelf since the last sea level rise. However, we found that two major depocentres have developed on the upper slope during the Holocene consequent to the interaction of bottom currents with seabed morphologies at the shelf edge and at the upper slope. Early Holocene sliding in the north-east and in the south-west upper slope is a secondary but yet major factor of sediment transfer to the deep domain. Identified preconditioning factors for sliding on the slope are related to lowstand sediment loading and fluid circulation on the upper slope, and erosion at the base of slope of a plastered drift. Triggering must be related to margin wide mechanisms such as changes in hydrostatic pressure and reorganisation of sediment dispersal, subsequent to the post-glacial sea level rise, or maybe a period of regional seismicity. Climatic conditions in the Zambezi River watershed during the Bolling-Allerod and Younger Dryas periods are recorded and imprinted on the upper slope in the form of a detrital rich layer and a prominent slope-wide high-amplitude reflector. All over the continental slope, plastering of sediment deposits by bottom currents is pervasive and shows a morphological continuum from erosional scours at the base of slope to sediment waves on the upper slope and a possible interaction between along and across slope transport processes. We conclude that, in addition to sea level, the interplay of external and internal factors such as oceanic circulation and sliding, together with margin morphology, lead to the development of unexpected depocentres on the continental slopes. Thus, the study of modern marine analogues is crucial to avoid misleading interpretation of fossil deposits in terms of paleo sea level and more generally of paleo-environmental conditions.

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Dennielou Bernard, Guambe Inacio H., Matsena Constantino P., Mugabe João A., Achimo Mussa, Jouet Gwenael (2022). Insight into contrasting patterns of sedimentation from shelf edge to base-of-slope on the Mozambique-Zambezi margin (17°30′S-20°S) during the last 40 ka. Marine Geology, 451, 106886 (23p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :