Linked turbidite-debrite resulting from recent Sahara Slide headwall reactivation

TitleLinked turbidite-debrite resulting from recent Sahara Slide headwall reactivation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsGeorgiopoulou, A, Wynn, RB, Masson, DG, Frenz, M
JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
ISBN Number0264-8172
KeywordsCanary Islands, Linked debrite, northwest Africa, Sahara Slide, turbidite

The northwest African margin has been affected by numerous large-scale landslides during the late Quaternary. This study focuses on a recent collapse of the Sahara Slide headwall and characterises the resulting flow deposit. Core and seismic data from the base of the upper headwall reveal the presence of blocky slide debris, comprising heavily deformed hemipelagic slope sediments. The blocky slide debris spilled over a lower headwall 60 km downslope and formed a thick transparent debris flow unit. Cores recovered 200–250 km farther downslope contain a surficial turbidite that is interpreted to be linked to the headwall collapse event based on timing and composition. One core located approximately 200 km from the headwall scar (C13) contains debrite encased in turbidite. The debrite comprises sheared and contorted hemipelagic mudstone clasts similar as those seen in the vicinity of the Sahara Slide headwall, and lacks matrix. This debrite pinches out laterally within 25 km of C13, whereas the accompanying turbidite can be correlated across 700 km of the northwest African margin. The linked turbidite–debrite bed is interpreted to have formed through recent failure of the steep Sahara Slide headwall that either 1) generated both a debris flow and a turbidity current almost simultaneously, or 2) generated a debris flow which with entrainment of water and progressive dilution led to formation of an accompanying turbidity current.