A 3D seismic study of the morphology and spatial distribution of buried coral banks in the Porcupine Basin, SW of Ireland

Huvenne, V.A.I. ORCID:; De Mol, B.; Henriet, J.P.. 2003 A 3D seismic study of the morphology and spatial distribution of buried coral banks in the Porcupine Basin, SW of Ireland. Marine Geology, 198 (1-2). 5-25.

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An industrial 3D seismic data volume, supplemented by high-resolution 2D seismics, was used to study part of a province of buried mound structures in the Porcupine Basin, southwest of Ireland. These ‘Magellan’ mounds and their associated moat structures, interpreted as scour marks, were mapped semi-automatically from time-structure and isopach maps. Image analysis techniques such as a tophat transformation (mathematical morphology) were applied for feature extraction. Size measures of both mounds and moats were derived from the resulting maps and summarised by means of some descriptive statistics. Spatial variability in mound occurrence and characteristics was investigated. Comparison with other mound structures in the area allowed the Magellan mounds to be identified as ‘coral banks’, associated with the growth of cold-water deep-sea coral species such as Lophelia pertusa (L.) and Madrepora oculata (L.). Mound growth clearly started in a single ‘event’, confined in time and space. Bottom currents and oceanographic characteristics of the surrounding water masses influenced this sudden process and the further mound development. However, the analysis of the 3D seismic data set did not allow us to identify unambiguously the actual cause for the sudden mound start-up. The mounds appear to have formed a dense cluster of structures of moderate size, which are significantly elongated in a N–S direction. They are associated with even more elongated moats, implying a periodically reversing N–S-directed current influence. A spatial density of one mound per km2 was measured, which remains more or less constant over the area investigated. Mound width and cross-sectional area and moat shape gradually change across the mound province, due to spatially changing environmental conditions at the initial growth stages of the mounds and during their further development (interplay between current regime and sedimentation).

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0025-3227
Additional Keywords: mounds; coral banks; tophat transformation; 3D seismics; Porcupine Basin
Date made live: 05 Oct 2006 +0 (UTC)

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