Sedimentary patterns in the vicinity of a carbonate mound in the Hovland Mound Province, northern Porcupine Seabight

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Abstract

Large carbonate mound structures have been discovered in the northern Porcupine Seabight (Northeast Atlantic) at depths between 600 and 1000 m. These mounds are associated with the growth of deep-sea corals Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata. In this study, three sediment cores have been analysed. They are from locations close to Propeller Mound, a 150 m high ridge-like feature covered with a cold-water coral ecosystem at its upper flanks. The investigations are concentrated on grain-size analyses, carbon measurements and on the visual description of the cores and computer tomographic images, to evaluate sediment content and structure.

The cores portray the depositional history of the past ∼31 kyr BP, mainly controlled by sea-level fluctuations and the climate regime with the advance and retreat of the Irish Ice Sheet onto the Irish Mainland Shelf. A first advance of glaciers is indicated by a turbiditic release slightly older than 31 kyr BP, coherent with Heinrich event 3 deposition. During Late Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3) and MIS 2 shelf erosion prevailed with abundant gravity flows and turbidity currents. A change from glaciomarine to hemipelagic contourite sedimentation during the onset of the Holocene indicates the establishment of the strong, present-day hydrodynamic regime at intermediate depths.

The general decrease in accumulation of sediments with decreasing distance towards Propeller Mound suggests that currents (turbidity currents, gravity flows, bottom currents) had a generally stronger impact on the sediment accumulation at the mound base for the past ∼31 kyr BP, respectively.