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Antarctic shelf-slope dynamics: an innovative geophysical approach

Antarctica phase IV (1997-2000)

Antarctic shelf-slope dynamics: an innovative geophysical approach

Promotors

Professor Marc De Batist
Universiteit Gent
Renard Centre of Marine Geology
Krijgslaan 281, S8
B-9000 GENT
Phone: +32 (0)9 264 45 87
Fax: +32 (0)9 264 49 97
E-mail: marc.debatist@rug.ac.be

Dr Jean-Pierre Henriet
Universiteit Gent
Renard Centre of Marine Geology
Krijgslaan 281, S8
B-9000 GENT
Phone: +32 (0)9 264 45 85
Fax: +32 (0)9 264 49 97
E-mail: jp.henriet@rug.ac.be

Topics

The purpose of this research is the geophysical study - at very high-resolution - of the internal structure and evolution of Antarctic continental margins, in order to better understand the relation between, on the one hand, the dynamics of the ice cap and, on the other hand, the processes of sedimentary deposition and remobilisation on the continental slope.

It aims at exploiting in an optimal way the seismic-reflection using large-band sources, like the "sparkers", which were used successfully within the framework of the studies carried out on the large lakes and more recently also on the European continental terraces.

Goals

  • In accordance with the recommendations of SCAR/ANTOSTRAT, the research is centred on a number of specific scientific objectives:
    • on the shelf even :
      analysis of the possible sedimentary residual deposits like potential witnesses of smaller pulsations of the ice cap, which would not have reached the edge of the plate itself;
    • on the outer part of the shelf and the higher parts of the continental slope :
      the space relation between the zones of progradation of the "through-mouth-fans", deposited in front of the discharge system of large ice flows;
    • the space and chronological relative relation between the deposits on the continental slope even and those of the base of the slope;
    • the space and chronological relative relation, at large scale, between instabilities ("debris flows") on the continental slope and the normal growth of the "through-mouth-fans", in order to be able to determine whether these processes are phased or outphased.
  • With the aim at being able to project these processes in an optimal way on an absolute chronology of the glacial evolution of the Antarctic margins, the above-mentioned efforts of research - within the framework of the operational possibilities - will follow upon the new phase of the ODP Antarctic activities planned for the forthcoming years.
  • Regarding methodology, these scientific objectives imply the development of a technique of seismic-reflection able - in polar water - to preserve the optimal characteristics of broad band as well as a maximum signal-to-noise ratio in the useful bandwidth. To this end, it is necessary to let towel at least one of the components of the seismic system on some 300 meters under the surface of water, in combination with a surface "streamer" when the atmospheric conditions allow it. In a second step, one will also aim the immersion of a "sparker" source, which implies the study of the behaviour of a "sparker" system within the framework of a "subtow" configuration with an significant length of cable.
  • A detailed attention will be given to the examination of the possibilities of valorization of this new methodology, in particular in the field of geotechnics of the sites located on the continental slope (preparation of drilling sites, study of ground instabilities).

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