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Tectonics and sedimentation interactions in the east Caribbean subduction zone: An overview from the Orinoco delta and the Barbados accretionary prism

Abstract : Several marine geophysical data and piston-coring surveys acquired during the last decade allow one to better understand the close dynamic interactions between the sand-rich Orinoco turbidite system and the compressional structures of the Barbados prism. These interactions have been active since Eocene time as illustrated by the study of outcrops onshore Barbados Island. Because of strong morphologic and tectonic control in the east-Caribbean active margin, the present-day Orinoco turbiditic pattern system does not exhibit a classic fan geometry. The sea-floor geometry between the slope of the front of the Barbados prism and the slope of the South-American margin induces the convergence of the turbidite channels toward the abyssal plain, at the front of the accretionary prism. Also, whereas in most passive margins the turbidite systems are organized upstream to downstream as canyon, channel-levee and lobes, here, due to the tectonic control, the sedimentary system is organized upstream to downstream as channel-levee, canyons and channelized lobes. Indeed, at the edge of the Orinoco platform, the system has multiple sources with several distributaries and downstream the channel courses are complex with frequent convergences or divergences that are emphasized by the effects of the undulating seafloor tectonic morphologies associated with active thrust tectonics and mud volcanism. On top of the accretionary prism, turbidite sediments are filling transported piggy-back basins whose timing of sedimentation vs. deformation is complex. While erosion processes are almost absent on the highly subsiding Orinoco platform and in the upper part of the turbidite system, they develop mostly between 2000 and 4000 m of water depth, above the compressional structures of the Barbados prism (canyons up to 3 km wide and 300 m deep). In the abyssal plain, the main turbiditic channel develops toward the east and connects with the Vidal mid-Atlantic channel. The sediments transported in this channel are filling several elongated basins linked with fracture zones (notably the Barracuda Basin), and finally end their course in the Puerto-Rico trench, the deepest morphologic depression of the region. Piston-cores have demonstrated that turbidite sediments above the accretionary prism and in the abyssal plain are mostly coarse sandy deposits covered by recent pelagic planktonic-rich sediments, which corresponds to slower sand deposition during the postglacial sea level rise. Numerical stratigraphic modelling suggests that during the last glacial event, the main depocentres were located above the tectonic prism and in the abyssal plain, at the front of the prism and that, during the Holocene eustatic rise, a large accommodation space formed on the shelf confining sedimentation mostly on the Orinoco deltaic platform and producing a starvation downstream in the turbidite system.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01207696
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Submitted on : Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 10:55:35 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 11, 2021 - 11:36:25 AM

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Eric Deville, Alain Mascle, Yannick Callec, P. Huyghe, S. Lallemant, et al.. Tectonics and sedimentation interactions in the east Caribbean subduction zone: An overview from the Orinoco delta and the Barbados accretionary prism. Marine and Petroleum Geology, Elsevier, 2015, 64, pp.76-103. ⟨10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2014.12.015⟩. ⟨hal-01207696⟩

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