The Magellan mound province in the Porcupine Basin

  • V. A. I. HuvenneEmail author
  • W. R. Bailey
  • P. M. Shannon
  • J. Naeth
  • R. di Primio
  • J. P. Henriet
  • B. Horsfield
  • H. de Haas
  • A. Wheeler
  • K. Olu-Le Roy
Original paper


The Magellan mound province is one of the three known provinces of carbonate mounds or cold-water coral banks in the Porcupine Seabight, west of Ireland. It has been studied in detail using a large and varied data set: 2D and 3D seismic data, sidescan sonar imagery and video data collected during ROV deployment have been used to describe the mounds in terms of origin, growth processes and burial. The aim of this paper is to present the Magellan mounds and their setting in an integrated, holistic way.

More than 1,000 densely spaced and mainly buried mounds have been identified in the area. They all seem to be rooted on one seismic reflection, suggesting a sudden mound start-up. Their size and spatial distribution characteristics are presented, together with the present-day appearance of the few mounds that reach the seabed. The underlying geology has been studied by means of fault analysis and numerical basin modelling in an attempt to identify possible hydrocarbon migration pathways below or in the surroundings of the Magellan mounds.

Although conclusive evidence concerning the processes of mound initiation proves to be elusive, the results of both fault analysis and 2D numerical modelling failed to identify, with confidence, any direct pathways for focused hydrocarbon flow to the Magellan province. Diffuse seepage however may have taken place, as drainage area modelling suggests a possible link between mound position and structural features in the Hovland-Magellan area. During mound development and growth, the interplay of currents and sedimentation seems to have been the most important control. Mounds which could not keep pace with the sedimentation rates were buried, and on the few mounds which maintained growth, only a few corals survive at present.


Carbonate mounds Cold-water corals Porcupine Basin Spatial distribution Mound morphology Fault analysis Numerical basin modelling 



The authors would like to thank Statoil Exploration (Ireland) Ltd., its partners Conoco (UK) Ltd., Enterprise Energy Ireland Ltd. and Dana Petroleum plc., and Chevron UK Ltd. for the kind provision of the 3D seismic data volume. Thanks also to the Petroleum Affairs Division (P.F. Croker) for the use of the MV Svitzer-Magellan site survey seismic data. Furthermore, this study used data and survey results (TOBI) acquired during a project undertaken with support of the European Union (EASSS III programme, ‘Improving Human Potential’, contract HPRI-CT-1999-00047) and on behalf of the Porcupine Studies Group (PSG) of the Irish Petroleum Infrastructure Programme Group 3. The PSG comprises: Agip Ireland BV, Chevron UK Ltd., Elf Petroleum Ireland BV, Enterprise Energy Ireland Ltd., Marathon International Hibernia Ltd., Philips Petroleum Company United Kingdom Ltd., Statoil Exploration (Ireland) Ltd. and the Petroleum Affairs Division of the Department of the Communication, Marine and Natural Resources. This research is carried out in the framework of the EC-funded Fifth Framework project ‘GEOMOUND’ (Contract No. EVK3-CT-1999-00016). The authors would like to thank D. Hebbeln and C. Ravenne for their constructive reviews. Veerle Huvenne, as PhD student, was funded through a grant of the ‘Fund for Scientific Research - Flanders’.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. A. I. Huvenne
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • W. R. Bailey
    • 3
    • 4
  • P. M. Shannon
    • 3
  • J. Naeth
    • 5
    • 6
  • R. di Primio
    • 5
  • J. P. Henriet
    • 1
  • B. Horsfield
    • 5
  • H. de Haas
    • 7
  • A. Wheeler
    • 8
  • K. Olu-Le Roy
    • 9
  1. 1.Renard Centre of Marine GeologyGhent UniversityGentBelgium
  2. 2.Challenger Division for Seafloor ProcessesNational Oceanography Centre, SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  3. 3.Department of GeologyUniversity College DublinBelfield, Dublin 4Ireland
  4. 4.CSIRO PetroleumBentleyAustralia
  5. 5.GeoForschungsZentrum PotsdamTelegrafenbergPotsdamGermany
  6. 6.Fugro Robertson LimitedTyn-y-coed Site, LlanrhosLlandudno, North WalesUK
  7. 7.Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)The Netherlands
  8. 8.Department of GeologyUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  9. 9.Centre de BrestIFREMERPlouzanéFrance

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