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Pockmarks, collapses and blind valleys in the Gulf of Cádiz

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Abstract

Herein we describe a suite of fluid escape depression features, including pockmarks and collapse structures, discovered in the Gulf of Cádiz (Spain) during several recent cruises. We also establish an evolutionary model for these depressions and discuss the generation of bottom undercurrent furrows from fluid-flow structures, considering the oceanographic and tectonic framework and gas expulsion mechanisms. We describe for the first time blind valleys, which we define as giant, elongated (3 to 10 km long), collapsed and complex fault-strike features comprising mega-collapses and mega-pockmarks, generated in gas-venting areas and not associated to the collapse of mud-volcano complexes. We detected the blind valleys above diapiric structures. The collapse processes associated to blind valleys result from fluid escape through migration pathways which, in turn, are created by distension due to diapiric activity or to later tectonic reactivation of these diapirs. The evolution of these blind valleys, and their present-day morphology as furrows, derives from progressive fluid migration as well as from interaction of Mediterranean Outflow Water with the seafloor.

Mature stage of blind valley formation: collapse of seafloor, blind valley generation and channelling of bottom currents

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Acknowledgements

We thank Aurélien Gay and one anonymous reviewer for comments and suggestions which have improved the paper. We are especially grateful to Cristino J. Dabrio González for suggestions and support during the development of the concept of blind valleys. We also thank Alan Judd for his input, the Instituto Español de Oceanografía for its exemplary and productive collaboration, all those who participated in the research cruises of the TASYO 2000 and MOUNDFORCE07 projects, as well as the captains, technicians and crews of the research vessels B/O Cornide de Saavedra, B/O Hespérides and R/V L’Atalante. This research was funded by the Spanish Marine Science and Technology Program under the TASYO Project (MAR 98-0209) and the ESF EuroCORE-EuroMARGINS projects MVSEIS (O1-LEC-EMA24F, REN2002-11669-E-MAR) and MOUNDFORCE (O1-LEC-EMA06F, REN2002-11668-E-MAR), and is currently supported by the Spanish Comisión Interministerial de Ciencia y Tecnología (CYCIT) project CTM2008-06399-C04/MAR (CONTOURIBER).

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León, R., Somoza, L., Medialdea, T. et al. Pockmarks, collapses and blind valleys in the Gulf of Cádiz. Geo-Mar Lett 30, 231–247 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00367-009-0169-z

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