About This Item

Share This Item

The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 77 (1993)

Issue: 6. (June)

First Page: 1064

Last Page: 1081

Title: Attributes and Origins of Ancient Submarine Slides and Filled Embayments: Examples from the Gulf Coast Basin

Author(s): Robert A. Morton (2)


Large submarine slides and associated shelf-margin embayments represent an intermediate member in the continuum of unstable shelf-margin features. On seismic profiles, they may resemble submarine canyons, but are different in their size, morphology, origin, and hydrocarbon exploration potential. Two large Neogene submarine slides, located in the northwestern Gulf Coast Basin, formed on the upper slope and flanks of prominent shelf-margin deltas. The basal detachment surface of each slide is a structural discontinuity that may be misinterpreted as an erosional unconformity and, therefore, misidentified as a stratigraphic boundary separating depositional sequences. Regional stratigraphic correlations indicate that both slides were initiated after the continental platform wa flooded. The condensed sections deposited during the rise in relative sea level contain the basal detachment surfaces. Beyond these observations, the relationships between the slides and sea level fluctuations are uncertain. The shelf-margin embayments created by the slides apparently were partly excavated during periods of lowered relative sea level and were filled during the subsequent relative sea level rise and highstand. Eventually the preslide morphology of the shelf margin was restored by coalesced prograding deltas.

Submarine slides exhibit landward-dipping, wavy, mounded, and chaotic seismic reflections that are manifestations of slump blocks and other mass transport material. Composition of these internally derived slide deposits depends on the composition of the preexisting shelf margin. Embayment fill above the slide consists mostly of externally derived mudstones and sandstones deposited by various disorganized slope processes, as well as more organized submarine channel-levee systems. Thickest slope sandstones, which are potential hydrocarbon reservoirs, commonly occur above the basal slide mudstones where seismic reflections change from chaotic patterns to overlying wavy or subhorizontal reflections.

Pay-Per-View Purchase Options

The article is available through a document delivery service. Explain these Purchase Options.

Watermarked PDF Document: $14
Open PDF Document: $24

AAPG Member?

Please login with your Member username and password.

Members of AAPG receive access to the full AAPG Bulletin Archives as part of their membership. For more information, contact the AAPG Membership Department at [email protected].