International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 98, Issue 4, pp 721–733 | Cite as

Provenance and pathways of late Quaternary turbidites in the deep-water Agadir Basin, northwest African margin

  • Michael Frenz
  • Russell B. Wynn
  • Aggeliki Georgiopoulou
  • Vera B. Bender
  • Gayle Hough
  • Douglas G. Masson
  • Peter J. Talling
  • Bryan T. Cronin
Original Paper


A series of individual turbidites, correlated over distances >100 km, are present in the recent fill of the Agadir Basin, offshore northwest Africa. The aim here is to unravel multiple turbidite source areas and flow pathways, and show how turbidite provenance studies contribute to interpretation of flow processes. Agadir Basin turbidites are sourced from four main areas, with the majority originating from the siliciclastic Morocco Shelf; their sand-mud distribution is strongly controlled by flow sediment volume, with relatively low-volume flows dying out within the Agadir Basin and large-volume flows bypassing significant sediment volumes to basins further downslope. Two large-volume volcaniclastic turbidites are attributed to a Canary Islands landslide source, while several small mud-dominated turbidites are interpreted to be locally sourced from hemipelagic-draped seamounts (e.g. Turbidite AB10). Finally, Turbidite AB1 (∼1 ka) is only present in the western Agadir Basin, and is linked to recent “re-activation” of the Sahara Slide headwall. The muddy suspension clouds of three large-volume flows, all linked to large-scale landslides, have covered huge areas of seafloor and flowed along or even slightly upslope for long distances. It is proposed that northeastwards-flowing bottom currents have aided transport of these dilute flow fractions into and across the Agadir Basin.


Agadir Basin Morocco Shelf Canary Islands Turbidites Sediment provenance 



This work was carried out within the EURODOM Research Training Network. We are grateful to NERC, ExxonMobil, BHP Billiton, ConocoPhillips, Shell and Norsk Hydro (now Statoil Hydro) for their financial support of the UK-TAPS Agadir Project. We would like to thank the Captains, Officers and crews of the various cruises involved in data collection. D. Green and B. Alker (NOCS), and C. Vogt and B. Kockisch (University of Bremen) are thanked for carrying out ICP, XRD and Leco analyses. S. Krastel (University of Bremen) kindly provided unpublished GLORIA data of the Dacia Seamount area. A. Akhmetzhanov (NOCS) provided invaluable seafloor maps generated from GEBCO bathymetry data. We thank the referees C. Pirmez and T. Hanebuth, and guest Editor M. Canals for their careful reviews that made the paper a much stronger contribution.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Frenz
    • 1
  • Russell B. Wynn
    • 1
  • Aggeliki Georgiopoulou
    • 2
  • Vera B. Bender
    • 3
  • Gayle Hough
    • 1
  • Douglas G. Masson
    • 1
  • Peter J. Talling
    • 4
  • Bryan T. Cronin
    • 5
  1. 1.National Oceanography CentreSouthampton, HampshireUK
  2. 2.School of Earth, Ocean and Planetary SciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  3. 3.Department of Sedimentology and PaleoceanographyUniversity of BremenBremenGermany
  4. 4.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  5. 5.Deep MarineAberdeenUK

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