The Enya mounds: a lost mound-drift competition

  • D. Van Rooij
  • V. A. I. Huvenne
  • D. Blamart
  • J.-P. Henriet
  • A. Wheeler
  • H. de Haas
Original Paper


The genesis and evolution of cold-water coral banks along the Northeastern Atlantic margin is known to be influenced by several factors, among which the palaeotopography and nature of the coral settling surface, the presence of bottom currents and sediment supply. In this paper, a case study is presented of the Enya mound cluster, located in the southernmost tip of the Belgica mound province, west of Ireland. Below this mound cluster, seismic stratigraphy revealed a yet unmapped local unconformity RD1b, being part of a composite erosion event (RD1). As such, from the Late Miocene to Late Pliocene, at least two erosional events have incised the margin, ending with the final RD1a “moundbase” unconformity, acting as a base for the Enya mounds. During the Quaternary the mounds became outgrown and were covered by a mounded contourite drift. In addition, they are closely associated with a cluster of seabed pockmarks. The bottom current regime which became active since the Middle Pleistocene has certainly influenced the fate of this mound cluster. The occurrence of the pockmarks seems to be related to relatively recent fluid migration processes, however leaving an open question if any previous seepage phases were involved in the growth or initiation of the coral banks.


Cold-water coral banks Contourite drift Pockmarks Unconformity Seismic stratigraphy 



The authors would like to acknowledge the captains, crews and shipboard parties of R/V Belgica, R/V Polarstern, R/V Pelagia and R/V Marion Dufresne. The study of the Enya mounds originated during the EC FP5 “Geomound” project and was respectively continued under EC FP5 RTN EURODOM and EC FP6 HERMES (contract GOCE-CT-2005-511234-1). The TOBI data was collected within the framework of 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. We would also like to thank G. Isguder, F. Dewilde and F. Manssouri at LSCE, Gif-sur-Yvette (FR) for the isotopic analysis of core MD01-2449. Also M. Vinckx and D. Schram of the Ghent University Marine Biology section are acknowledged for the use of the Coulter LS130. Swell filtering of the seismic profiles was performed using developed by P. Staelens. We also appreciated the comments and suggestions of the topic editor, M. Rebesco and an anonymous reviewer, which significantly improved the quality of this manuscript. DVR is a post-doctoral fellow of the FWO-Flanders. VH is a Marie-Curie post-doctoral fellow and honorary fellow of FWO-Flanders.


  1. Auffret GA, Zaragosi S, Dennielou B, Cortijo E, Van Rooij D, Grousset FE, Pujol C, Eynaud F, Siegert M (2002) Terrigenous fluxes at the Celtic margin during the last glacial cycle. Mar Geol 188:79–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bailey W, Shannon PM, Walsh JJ, Unnithan V (2003) The spatial distributions of faults and deep sea carbonate mounds in the Porcupine Basin, offshore Ireland. Mar Petrol Geol 20:509–522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baraza J, Ercilla G (1996) Gas-charged sediments and large pockmark-like features on the Gulf of Cadiz slope (SW Spain). Mar Petrol Geol 13:253–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beyer A, Chackraborty B, Schenke HW (2007) Seafloor classification of the mound and channel provinces of the Porcupine Seabight: an application of the multibeam angular backscatter data. Int J Earth Sci 96:11–20. doi: 10.1007/s00531-005-0022-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beyer A, Schenke HW, Klenke M, Niederjasper F (2003) High resolution bathymetry of the eastern slope of the Porcupine Seabight. Mar Geol 198:27–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bond G, Heinrich H, Broecker WS, Labeyrie LD, McManus J, Andrews JT, Huon S, Jantschik R, Clasen S, Simet C, Tedesco K, Klas M, Bonani G, Ivy S (1992) Evidence for massive discharges of icebergs into the North Atlantic ocean during the last glacial period. Nature 360:245–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Casas D, Ercilla G, Baraza J (2003) Acoustic evidences of gas in the continental slope sediments of the Gulf of Cadiz (E Atlantic). Geomar Lett 23:300–310Google Scholar
  8. Cortijo E, Duplessy JC, Labeyrie L, Duprat J, Paillard D (2005) Heinrich events: hydrological impact. C.R. Acad Sci Paris série IIa 337:897–907Google Scholar
  9. Croker PF, Shannon PM (1995) The petroleum geology of Ireland’s offshore basins. Geological Society, London, p 498Google Scholar
  10. de Graciansky PC, Poag CW, Cunningham R, Loubere P, Masson DG, Mazzullo JM, Montadert L, Müller C, Otsuka K, Reynolds LA, Sigal J, Snyder SW, Townsend HA, Vaos SP, Waples D (1985) The Goban Spur transect: geologic evolution of a sediment-starved passive continental margin. Geol Soc Am Bull 96:58–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. De Mol B, Henriet J-P, Canals M (2005) Development of coral banks in Porcupine Seabight: do they have Mediterranean ancestors? In: Freiwald A, Murray Roberts J (eds) Cold-water corals and ecosystems. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 515–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Mol B, Kozachenko M, Wheeler AJ, Alvares H, Henriet J-P, Olu-Le Roy K (2007) Thérèse Mound: a case study of coral bank development in the Belgica Mound Province, Porcupine Seabight. Int J Earth Sci 96:103–120. doi: 10.1007/s00531-005-0496-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. De Mol B, Van Rensbergen P, Pillen S, Van Herreweghe K, Van Rooij D, McDonnell A, Huvenne V, Ivanov M, Swennen R, Henriet J-P (2002) Large deep-water coral banks in the Porcupine Basin, southwest of Ireland. Mar Geol 188:193–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Foubert A, Beck T, Wheeler AJ, Opderbecke J, Grehan A, Klages M, Thiede J, Henriet J-P, the Polarstern ARK-XIX/3a shipboard party (2005) New view of the Belgica Mounds, Porcupine Seabight, NE Atlantic: preliminary results from the Polarstern ARK-XIX/3a ROV cruise. In: Freiwald A, Roberts JM (eds) Deep-water corals and ecosystems. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 403–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gay A, Lopez M, Ondreas H, Charlou J-L, Sermondadaz G, Cochonat P (2006) Seafloor facies related to upward methane flux within a Giant Pockmark of the Lower Congo Basin. Mar Geol 226:81–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hargreaves PM (1984) The distribution of Decapoda (Crustacea) in the open ocean and near-bottom over an adjacent slope in the northern North-East Atlantic Ocean during Autumn 1979. J Mar Biol Assoc UK 64:829–857CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Head MJ, Gibbard PL (2005) Early-middle Pleistocene transitions: an overview and recommendation for the defining boundary. In: Head MJ, Gibbard PL (eds) Early-middle Pleistocene transitions: the land-ocean evidence. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 247, pp 1–18Google Scholar
  18. Henriet J-P, De Mol B, Pillen S, Vanneste M, Van Rooij D, Versteeg W, Croker PF, Shannon PM, Unnithan V, Bouriak S, Chachkine P, The Porcupine-Belgica 97 Shipboard Party (1998) Gas hydrate crystals may help build reefs. Nature 391:648–649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Henriet J-P, De Mol B, Vanneste M, Huvenne V, Van Rooij D, the “Porcupine-Belgica” ‘97 ‘98 and ‘99 shipboard parties (2001) Carbonate mounds and slope failures in the Porcupine Basin: a development model involving past fluid venting. In: Shannon PM, Haughton P, Corcoran D (eds) The petroleum exploration of Ireland’s offshore basins. Geological Society, London, Special Publication 188, pp 375–383Google Scholar
  20. Hernandez-Molina FJ, Somoza L, Vazquez JT, Lobo F, Fernandez-Puga MC, Llave E, Diaz-del Rio V (2002) Quaternary stratigraphic stacking patterns on the continental shelves of the southern Iberian Peninsula: their relationship with global climate and palaeoceanographic changes. Quaternary Int 92:5–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hovland M, Croker PF, Martin M (1994) Fault-associated seabed mounds (carbonate knolls?) off western Ireland and north-west Australia. Mar Petrol Geol 11:232–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hovland M, Gardner JV, Judd AG (2002) The significance of pockmarks to understanding fluid flow processes and geohazards. Geofluids 2:127–136. doi: 10.1046/j.1468-8123.2002.00028.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hovland M, Judd AG (1988) Seabed pockmarks and seepages, impact on geology, biology and the environment. Graham & Trotman, London, p 293Google Scholar
  24. Hovland M, Risk M (2003) Do Norwegian deep-water coral reefs rely on seeping fluids? Mar Geol 198:83–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Huvenne VAI, Bailey WR, Shannon PM, Naeth J, di Primio R, Henriet J-P, Horsfield B, de Haas H, Wheeler AJ, Olu-Le Roy K (2007) The Magellan mound province in the Porcupine Basin. Int J Earth Sci 96:85–101. doi: 10.1007/s00531-005-0494-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Huvenne VAI, De Mol B, Henriet J-P (2003) A 3D seismic study of the morphology and spatial distribution of buried coral banks in the Porcupine Basin, SW of Ireland. Mar Geol 198:5–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. IODP 307 Expedition Scientists (2005) Modern carbonate mounds: porcupine drilling. IODP Prel Rept 307. doi: 10.2204/
  28. Jensen JB, Kuijpers A, Bennike O, Laier T, Werner F (2002) New geological aspects for freshwater seepage and formation in Eckernförde Bay, western Baltic. Cont Shelf Res 22:2159–2173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Johnston S, Doré AG, Spencer AM (2001) The Mesozoic evolution of the southern North Atlantic region and its relationship to basin development in the south Porcupine Basin, offshore Ireland. In: Shannon PM, Haughton P, Corcoran D (eds) The petroleum exploration of Ireland’s offshore basins. Geological Society, London, Special Publication 188, pp 237–263Google Scholar
  30. Kano A, Ferdelman TG, Williams T, Henriet JP, Ishikawa T, Kawagoe N, Abe K, Sakai S, Browning E, Li X, the IODP Expedition 307 Scientists (2007) Age constraints on the origin and growth history of a deep-water coral mound in NE Atlantic drilled in IODP Expedition 307. Geology 35:1051–1054. doi: 10.1130/G23917A.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kenyon NH, Akhmetzhanov AM, Wheeler AJ, van Weering TCE, de Haas H, Ivanov MK (2003) Giant carbonate mud mounds in the southern Rockall Trough. Mar Geol 195:5–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kenyon NH, Belderson RH, Stride AH (1978) Channels, canyons and slump folds between South-West Ireland and Spain. Oceanol Acta 1:369–380Google Scholar
  33. Le Bas T, Hühnerbach V (1999) P.R.I.S.M. processing of remotely-sensed imagery for seafloor mapping operators manual version 3.1. Southampton Oceanographic Centre, UKGoogle Scholar
  34. Lindberg B, Berndt C, Mienert J (2007) The Fugloy Reef at 70°N; acoustic signature, geologic, geomorphologic and oceanographic setting. Int J Earth Sci 96:201–213. doi: 10.1007/s00531-005-0495-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Louwye S, Foubert A, Mertens K, Van Rooij D, the IODP Exp. 307 Scientific Party (2008) Integrated stratigraphy and palaeoecology of the lower and middle Miocene of porcupine basin. Geol Mag. doi: 10.1017/S0016756807004244
  36. Lu H, Fulthorpe CS, Mann P (2003) Three-dimensional architecture of shelf-building sediment drifts in the offshore Canterbury Basin, New Zealand. Mar Geol 193:19–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Masson DG, Bett BJ, Billet DSM, Jacobs CL, Wheeler AJ, Wynn RB (2003) The origin of deep-water, coral-topped mounds in the northern Rockall Trough, Northeast Atlantic. Mar Geol 194:159–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McDonnell A, Shannon PM (2001) Comparative Tertiary stratigraphic evolution of the Porcupine and Rockall basins. In: Shannon PM, Haughton P, Corcoran D (eds) The petroleum exploration of Ireland’s offshore basins. Geological Society, London, Special Publication 188, pp 323–344Google Scholar
  39. Mienis F, van Weering T, de Haas H, de Stigter H, Huvenne V, Wheeler A (2006) Carbonate mound development at the SW Rockall Trough margin based on high resolution TOBI and seismic recording. Mar Geol 233:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Naeth J, di Primio R, Horsfield B, Schaefer RG, Shannon PM, Bailey WR, Henriet JP (2005) Hydrocarbon seepage and carbonate mound formation: a basin modelling study from the porcupine basin (offshore Ireland). J Petrol Geol 28:147–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. New AL, Barnard S, Herrmann P, Molines J-M (2001) On the origin and pathway of the saline inflow to the Nordic Seas: insights from models. Prog Oceanog 48:255–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. O’Reilly BM, Readman PW, Shannon PM, Jacob AWB (2003) A model for the development of a carbonate mound population in the Rockall Trough based on deep-towed sidescan sonar data. Mar Geol 198:55–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Paull C, Ussler W III, Maher N, Rehder G, Lorenson T, Lee H (2002) Pockmarks off Big Sur, California. Mar Geol 181:323–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Raymo ME, Oppo D, Curry WB (1997) The mid-Pleistocene climate transition: a deep sea carbon isotopic perspective. Paleoceanography 12:546–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rebesco M (2005) SEDIMENTARY ENVIRONMENTS | Contourites. In: Selley RC, Cocks LRM, Plimer IR (eds) Encyclopedia of geology. Elsevier, Oxford, pp 513–528Google Scholar
  46. Rice AL, Billet DSM, Thurston MH, Lampitt RS (1991) The institute of oceanographic sciences biology programme in the porcupine Seabight: background and general introduction. J Mar Biol Assoc UK 71:281–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rice AL, Thurston MH, New AL (1990) Dense aggregations of a hexactinellid sponge, Pheromena carpenteri, in the Porcupine Seabight (northeast Atlantic Ocean), and possible causes. Prog Oceanog 24:179–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Roberts JM, Wheeler AJ, Freiwald A (2006) Reefs of the deep: the biology and geology of cold-water coral ecosystems. Science 312:543–547CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rüggeberg A, Dullo C, Dorschel B, Hebbeln D (2007) Environmental changes and growth history of a cold-water carbonate mound (Propeller Mound, Porcupine Seabight). Int J Earth Sci 96:57–72. doi: 10.1007/s00531-005-0504-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schroot BM, Klaver GT, Schüttenhelm RTE (2005) Surface and subsurface expressions of gas seepage to the seabed-examples from the Southern North Sea. Mar Petrol Geol 22:499–515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shannon PM (1991) The development of Irish offshore sedimentary basins. J Geol Soc Lond 148:181–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Shannon PM, McDonnell A, Bailey W (2007) The evolution of the Porcupine and Rockall basins, offshore Ireland: the geological template for carbonate mound development. Int J Earth Sci 96:21–35. doi: 10.1007/s00531-006-0081-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Stoker MS, Nielsen T, van Weering TCE, Kuijpers A (2002) Towards an understanding of the Neogene tectonostratigraphic framework of the NE Atlantic margin between Ireland and the Faroe Islands. Mar Geol 188:233–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Stoker MS, Praeg D, Hjelstuen BO, Laberg JS, Nielsen T, Shannon PM (2005) Neogene stratigraphy and the sedimentary and oceanographic development of the NW European Atlantic margin. Mar Petrol Geol 22:977–1005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Stoker MS, van Weering TCE, Svaerdborg T (2001) A mid- to late Cenozoic tectonostratigraphic framework for the Rockall Trough. In: Shannon PM, Haughton P, Corcoran D (eds) Petroleum exploration of Ireland’s offshore basins. Geological Society, London, Special Publication 188, pp 411–438Google Scholar
  56. Stow DAV, Faugères J-C, Howe JA, Pudsey CJ, Viana AR (2002) Bottom currents, contourites and deep-sea sediment drifts: current state-of-the-art. In: Stow DAV, Pudsey CJ, Howe JA, Faugères J-C, Viana AR (eds) Deep-water contourite systems: modern drifts and ancient series, seismic and sedimentary characteristics. Geological Society, London, Memoirs 22, pp 7–20Google Scholar
  57. Van Rensbergen P, Rabaute A, Colpaert A, St. Ghislain T, Mathijs M, Bruggeman A (2007) Fluid migration and fluid seepage in the Connemara Field, Porcupine Basin interpreted from industrial 3D seismic and well data combined with high-resolution site survey data. Int J Earth Sci 96:185–197. doi: 10.1007/s00531-005-0021-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Van Rooij D (2004) An integrated study of Quaternary sedimentary processes on the eastern slope of the Porcupine Seabight, SW of Ireland. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Ghent University, Ghent, p 330Google Scholar
  59. Van Rooij D, Blamart D, Kozachenko M, Henriet J-P (2007a) Small mounded contourite drifts associated with deep-water coral banks, Porcupine Seabight, NE Atlantic Ocean. In: Viana AR, Rebesco M (eds) Economic and palaeoceanographic importance of contourite deposits. Geological Society, London, Special Publication 276, pp 225–244Google Scholar
  60. Van Rooij D, Blamart D, Richter TO, Wheeler AJ, Kozachenko M, Henriet J-P (2007b) Quaternary sediment dynamics in the Belgica mounds province, Porcupine Seabight: ice rafting events and contour current processes. Int J Earth Sci 96:121–140. doi: 10.1007/s00531-006-0086-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Van Rooij D, De Mol B, Huvenne V, Ivanov MK, Henriet J-P (2003) Seismic evidence of current-controlled sedimentation in the Belgica mound province, upper Porcupine slope, southwest of Ireland. Mar Geol 195:31–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. van Weering TCE, de Haas H, de Stigter HC, Lykke-Andersen H, Kouvaev I (2003) Structure and development of giant carbonate mounds at the SW and SE Rockall Trough margins, NE Atlantic Ocean. Mar Geol 198:67–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wheeler AJ, Beyer A, Freiwald A, de Haas H, Huvenne VAI, Kozachenko M, Olu-Le Roy K, Opderbecke J (2007) Morphology and environment of cold-water coral carbonate mounds on the NW European margin. Int J Earth Sci 96:37–56. doi: 10.1007/s00531-006-0130-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Wheeler AJ, Kenyon NH, Ivanov MK, Beyer A, Cronin B, McDonnell A, Schenke HW, Akhmetzhanov AM, Satur N, Zaragosi S (2003) Canyon heads and channel architecture of the Gollum channel, porcupine seabight. In: Mienert J, Weaver PPE (eds) European margin sediment dynamics: side-scan sonar and seismic images. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 183–186Google Scholar
  65. White M (2007) Benthic dynamics at the carbonate mound regions of the Porcupine Sea Bight continental margin. Int J Earth Sci 96:1–9. doi: 10.1007/s00531-006-0099-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Van Rooij
    • 1
    • 2
  • V. A. I. Huvenne
    • 3
  • D. Blamart
    • 2
  • J.-P. Henriet
    • 1
  • A. Wheeler
    • 4
  • H. de Haas
    • 5
  1. 1.Renard Centre of Marine GeologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratoire des Sciences de Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE/IPSL/UVSQ), Laboratoire mixte CNRS/CEAGif-sur-YvetteFrance
  3. 3.Geology and Geophysics GroupNational Oceanography Centre, Southampton, European WaySouthamptonUK
  4. 4.Department of Geology and Environmental Research InstituteUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  5. 5.Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)Den BurgThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations