Late Pleistocene-early Holocene fluvial facies and depositional processes in the Fehmarn Belt, between Germany and Denmark, revealed by high-resolution seismic and lithofacies analysis

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Abstract

In the narrow offshore border zone between Germany and Denmark, 550 km of high-density 3.5-kHz subbottom seismic reflection profiles were recorded within a 70-km(2) area in order to reconstruct the seismic stratigraphy of late Pleistocene to early Holocene lacustrine and fluvial environments. Using detailed line drawings, seismic facies analyses and a hierarchy of bounding surfaces, a depositional unit was recognized and subdivided into subunits 4(a) (oblique-parallel), 4(b) (mound, oblique-tangential), 4(c) (sigmoid, oblique), 4(d) and 4(e) (shingled and parallel). The base of this seismic facies association defines a wide U-shaped valley with well-defined scours and, in the valley sides, steps are located above deep steep-dipping reflections. Stratigraphic control was available from 32 coring sites (5- to 12-m-deep vibrocores). Subunit 4(b) represents coarsening-up silt and sand, and samples from subunit 4(d) show fining-up fine sand, silt and clay. The seismic facies association is proposed to have formed by a fluvial event of short duration some time in the period between 10.3 C-14 ka BP and 9.0 C-14 ka BP. Subunits 4(a) to 4(e) represent gradually decreasing flow power. A peak flow initiated the fluvial event, after which water discharge and level fell rapidly. Subsequently, the normal background discharge from the Baltic Sea area dominated the flow style. Reflections beneath the step-like valley side with high dip angles are interpreted as faults. This tectonic activity resulted in subsidence in the analysed area and could possibly have influenced the fluvio-dynamic development. The seismic stratigraphic succession reveals a high-resolution record of sediments in this area. In particular, the stepwise uncovering of the morphology of the subunits, preserved in high-resolution seismic facies associations, is proposed as a useful tool in modelling the dynamic development of the near sea-floor environment.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geology

Keywords

  • shallow, lake drainage event, seismic texture, seismic, architectural element
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-465
JournalSedimentology
Volume49
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes