Tunnel valleys of the central and northern North Sea (56°N to 62°N): Distribution and characteristics

Ottesen, D.; Stewart, M.; Brönner, M.; Batchelor, C.L.. 2020 Tunnel valleys of the central and northern North Sea (56°N to 62°N): Distribution and characteristics. Marine Geology, 425, 106199.

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The analysis of buried tunnel valleys in the North Sea can provide information about the past configuration and dynamics of the Scandinavian and British ice sheets and the processes by which sediment and meltwater were transported at the ice-sheet base. However, little is presently known about the distribution and characteristics of tunnel valleys in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. Here we use an extensive database of 3D seismic and high-resolution magnetic data to map >2200 tunnel valleys in the Norwegian and British sectors of the North Sea between 56°N and 62°N. With the exception of the deep Norwegian Channel, in which evidence for tunnel valleys is absent, the geological setting of the North Sea is interpreted to have been conducive to tunnel-valley formation and preservation because of its poorly consolidated substrate and shallow water depths. The highest density of tunnel valleys is located in the central part of the North Sea where Quaternary sediments are thickest. The extreme length of some of the tunnel valleys, which are up to 155 km long, supports theories that tunnel valleys form in stages rather than catastrophically. Detailed analysis of the orientation of tunnel valleys and their relative age relationships within four representative subareas shows that tunnel-valley orientation varies significantly across the central and northern North Sea and between different generations of valleys. This suggests that the pattern of subglacial meltwater drainage in the central and northern North Sea was different between each deglacial event in which tunnel valleys were formed.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 00253227
Date made live: 17 Apr 2020 13:39 +0 (UTC)

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