Marine Geophysical Research

, Volume 32, Issue 1–2, pp 49–69 | Cite as

A review of undulated sediment features on Mediterranean prodeltas: distinguishing sediment transport structures from sediment deformation

  • Roger Urgeles
  • Antonio Cattaneo
  • Pere Puig
  • Camino Liquete
  • Ben De Mol
  • David Amblàs
  • Nabil Sultan
  • Fabio Trincardi
Original Research Paper


Most Mediterranean prodeltas show undulated sediment features on the foresets of their Holocene wedges. These features have been described all along the Mediterranean for the last 30 years and interpreted as either soft sediment deformation and incipient landsliding, and more recently, as sediment transport structures. We perform a review and detailed analysis of these undulated sediment features using ultrahigh-resolution seismic and bathymetric data as well as geotechnical information and hydrodynamic time series and hydrographic transects. In this study we show that the characteristics of the sediment undulations (configuration of the reflections down section and between adjacent undulations and overall morphologic characteristics) are incompatible with a genesis by sediment deformation alone and do not show evidence of sediment deformation in most cases. Various processes in the benthic boundary layer can be invoked to explain the variety of features observed in the numerous areas displaying sediment undulations.


Undulated sediments Prodeltas Slope failure Sediment waves Hyperpycnal flows Internal waves 



This manuscript is a contribution to project E-MARSHAL (IGCP-585) funded by IUGS and UNESCO. The data on the Iberian prodeltas was acquired in the frame of the Spanish project PRODELTA (REN2002-02323). Data for some areas of the continental shelf (Fluvià-Muga and Ter prodeltas) were acquired by “Secretaría General del Mar” of the Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, y Medio Rural y Marino” and provided free of charge. For the Algerian data we thank captain and crew of R/V L’Atalante (campagne PRISME 2007) and funding from French ANR projects ISIS and DANACOR. Borehole geotechnical data was acquired in the frame EC funded project PROMESS-1 (EVR1-CT-2002-40024). Hydrodynamic transects and instrumented moorings were funded by the Office of Naval Research, NICOP Grant N00014-02-1-0252. The “Generalitat de Catalunya” is acknowledged for support through an excellence research group grant (2009-SGR-146). Seismic Microtechnology is acknowledged for Kingdom Suite educational license grant. We thank F. Foglini for Figs. 3 and 5. J. Déverchère (UBO-IUEM, Brest) and K. Yelles (CRAAG, Algiers) are thanked for discussions about the Algerian shelf. Constructive reviews by A. Fildani and P. Tommasi and editor F.L. Chiocci greatly improved the submitted version of the manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger Urgeles
    • 1
  • Antonio Cattaneo
    • 2
  • Pere Puig
    • 1
  • Camino Liquete
    • 3
  • Ben De Mol
    • 4
    • 5
  • David Amblàs
    • 4
  • Nabil Sultan
    • 2
  • Fabio Trincardi
    • 6
  1. 1.Departament de Geologia MarinaInstitut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC)Barcelona, CataloniaSpain
  2. 2.GM-LESIFREMERPlouzané Cédex, BretagneFrance
  3. 3.Institute for Environment and SustainabilityEuropean Commission - Joint Research CentreIspraItaly
  4. 4.Departament d’Estratigrafia, Paleontologia i Geociències Marines, Facultat de GeologiaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelona, CataloniaSpain
  5. 5.Parc Científic de BarcelonaBarcelona, CataloniaSpain
  6. 6.ISMAR (CNR)BolognaItaly

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