Hanebuth, T.J.J., Mersmeyer, H., Kudrass, H.R. and Westphal, H. (2013) Aeolian to shallow-marine shelf architecture off a major desert since the Late Pleistocene (northern Mauritania). Geomorphology, 203 . pp. 132-147. DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2013.08.031.

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Abstract

Continental shelves off major desert regions are not expected to host substantial amounts of sediments due to long-lasting and unfocused material supply and a high re-mobilization potential of aeolian material. This study, in contrast, demonstrates that significant volumes of sediments have accumulated on the northern Mauritanian shelf under the arid climate conditions and prevail over consecutive climatic cycles.

Eight late Pleistocene to Holocene depositional units, each formed under contrasting depositional conditions, are identified in high-resolution seismo-acoustic data and dated sediment cores. These are: (1) a highly differentiated Pleistocene paleo-landscape older than the past climatic cycle, (2) a continental dune complex (MIS-4), (3) a thick regressive shallow-water clinoform (late MIS-3), (4) a regressive to lowstand shore deposit (latest MIS-3), and (5) a local transgressive cover (LGM to deglacial). Additionally, (6) an open-shelf highstand cover, (7) an outer-shelf highstand wedge and (8) mid-shelf mud depocenters have formed during the Holocene sea-level highstand.

The common local offshore formation and preservation of confined stratigraphic units, in particular from during MIS-3, mark the interplay of: a) episodes of pronounced arid climatic conditions resulting in enhanced aeolian and coastal sediment input, b) shelf current patterns focusing sediment deposition locally, and c) early post-depositional sediment stabilization providing protection against erosion. Prominent internal surfaces at 63 and 115 m modern water depths indicate widespread and intense erosional activity during late MIS-3 regression and MIS-2 lowstand to post-LGM transgression, hosting coarse shell sands and gravels from beach and shoreface paleo-environments. The reasons for the high preservation potential of confined stratigraphic units are: a) carbonaceous cementation, b) sediment composition (massive widespread shore-related gravel and shell beds with subtle minor admixtures of cohesive material), and c) morphological protection (inside seafloor depressions and behind sheltering relief).

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: Biogeochemistry and Geology > Geoecology & Carbonate Sedimentology
Affiliations > Not ZMT
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2013.08.031
ISSN: 0169555X
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2019 12:36
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2020 12:59
URI: http://cris.leibniz-zmt.de/id/eprint/2641

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