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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 72 (1988)

Issue: 6. (June)

First Page: 698

Last Page: 716

Title: Factors Controlling Depositional Patterns of Ebro Turbidite Systems, Mediterranean Sea

Author(s): C. Hans Nelson (2), Andres Maldonado (3)


Tectonic control by subsiding grabens parallel to the Ebro continental margin created a steep narrow slope and rise that resulted in development of coexisting aprons, channel-levee complexes, and a fan, all fed by the same Ebro River source. In unstable steep-slope terrain, mass movement of material caused wide gullied canyons and deposition of nonchannelized base-of-slope aprons that extend 50 km across the rise. Within stable continental-margin areas, channelized turbidity currents formed individual narrow canyons and channel-levee complexes from north to south, successively, at different low sea level stands. Tectonically induced steep gradients (1:25-1:130) across the continental rise and northeastward in Valencia Trough caused sediment to bypass 200 km down Valencia alley and deposit on Valencia Fan at its end, thus preventing direct development of Ebro channel-levee complexes into fans. When a single source fed channel B for a relatively long period, however, (1) fan-valley sinuosity increased, (2) channel walls were modified through undercutting, slumping, and crevasse splays, and (3) channel bifurcation occurred, although lower fan lobes and a complete fan never developed.

The dominance of local tectonic control thus aborted fan development in proximal regions on the continental margin near the Ebro River source and displaced fan formation to a distal site in the Valencia Trough basin. During low sea level stands, continued different local tectonic and sediment-source controls resulted in aprons, channel-levee complexes, and fans forming simultaneously from the same source and without evolving from one type of turbidite system to another. Complex ancient turbidite systems similar to those along the Ebro margin may be anticipated in the stratigraphic record of tectonically active settings like the alpine basins of Europe.

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