Surface expression of microplate boundary kinematics: an isolated abyssal hill in the Mozambique Channel

Wilfried.Jokat [ at ]


In this contribution, high resolution multibeam swath bathymetry and PARASOUND sediment echosounder data are used to describe a region within the distal part of the central Mozambique Channel. The study area marks a transition from abyssal plain to abyssal hill type morphology within the sediment-rich Mozambique Fan and associated with a zone of extension in response to East African Rift System kinematics. Hosted within the abyssal hill lies an east-west orientated, elongate (80 km × 11 km) depression (relief of ca.175 m). Multibeam bathymetry and PARASOUND data show that the region surrounding the depression is variable in geomorphology including rugged irregular seafloor and sediment waves. Low gradient, smooth sea floor dominates the abyssal plain which returns several, distinct, sub-parallel sub bottom echoes. The flanks of the abyssal hill are marked by seafloor undulations likely evidence of bottom-current controlled geomorphology, and mass wasting deposits. The floor of the depression is characterised by hyperbolic echoes commonly associated with very rugged seafloor and basement outcrop with little sediment cover. The present-day geomorphology of the study area is the product of deep-seated ocean circulation and soft sediment deformation superimposed upon the antecedent geological framework, influenced by present-day kinematics of the East African Rift System. Faulting associated with these kinematics is manifest at the seafloor as the elongate steep-flanked depression; the result of an extensional regime expressed across the Mozambique channel from south-southwest to north-northeast. This contribution highlights the local, marine, ramification of a continental-scale largely terrestrial tectonic regime.

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DOI 10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2020.103830

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Wiles, E. , Watkeys, M. and Jokat, W. (2020): Surface expression of microplate boundary kinematics: an isolated abyssal hill in the Mozambique Channel , Journal of African Earth Sciences, 168 (103830) . doi: 10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2020.103830

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