Lorena G. Moscardelli, Equinor Principal Researcher Geology
Title: Deep-water Processes and Deposits, from Mass Transport Complexes in Eastern Offshore Trinidad to Mixed Siliciclastic-Carbonate Systems in Offshore Nova Scotia and a Bit More
Abstract: According to NASA, only between 5 to 15 percent of the seafloor has been surveyed by traditional sonar techniques. In contrast, Mars has been carefully mapped by a variety of satellites over the past 18 years or more. The resolution of Mars imagery is ~20 m while most of Earth’s seafloor maps, made using geodetic techniques, have a ~5 km resolution (CryoSat-2 and Jason-1 satellites). There are detailed images of Earth’s seafloor but these maps are constrained to areas where limited sonar acquisition has been performed using ships. Therefore, it is not inaccurate to say that we “know more” about the surface of Mars than we do about the ocean floor on Earth or at least we have a more complete record of its surface geomorphology.
The lack of adequate high-resolution seafloor imagery, in conjunction with the technical and cost constrains that are linked to direct deep-water observations on Earth’s oceans have hindered our capacity to fully understand processes governing deep-water deposition. In fact, for a long time many believed that from a process sedimentological point of view hemipelagic sedimentation was the only depositional process occurring within deep water basins. New data types, many linked to deep-water oil and gas exploration, allowed us to understand that deep-water processes are much more dynamic and that gravity-driven process associated with turbidites and submarine landslides play an important role in the deep ocean. Despite the accelerated development of deep-water sedimentological and stratigraphic knowledge during the past couple of decades, much remains unknown when it comes to the true extent of deep-water processes. Most recently, we have come to realize that the role of deep-water currents (contourites) is more important than previously thought and that there is still much to investigate in terms of the impact that siliciclastic-carbonate systems can have on deep-water sedimentation, among other topics.
In this talk, I will walk you through a series of case studies in different continental margins around the globe where a variety of deep-water processes have left their own distinctive record. In addition, I will also discuss the relevance of understanding, or at least considering, terrestrial deep-water processes as potential analogs for some Martian deposits and how this crosspollination of knowledge could accelerate our understanding of the red planet as well as Earth’s oceans.
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